Detroit fire department has alert system made of pop cans, doorbells

Detroit Free Press

“Detroit is so broke that firefighters get emergency alerts through pop cans, coins, door hinges, pipes and doorbells.

And they make these gizmos themselves — one involving a pop can that gets tipped over by an incoming fax. The clink of the can means there’s an emergency. Then there’s the chain-reaction gadget: a fax hits a door hinge, which then tugs on a wire, which then sets off a door bell.

“It sounds unbelievable, but it’s truly what the guys have been doing and dealing with for a long long time,” said Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner John Berlin, adding technological upgrades are long overdue. “We’re in desperate need. We’re probably 30 years behind.”

Berlin’s comments confirmed today’s testimony of a recovery  consultant for the city of Detroit, who said at the bankruptcy trial that technological upgrades are long overdue in the city.

The witness, Charles Moore, talked about how the city plans to spend $1.4 billion on services when it emerges from bankruptcy.Technology, he said, needs to be a priority. To bolster his argument, he shared the pop-can, fire-alert story.

“But because we’ve improvised, that never became a priority,” Berlin said of getting an upgraded, modern alert system. “It’s been that way since way back. Unfortunately, we fall back on tradition far too often.”

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Free Press

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