Firefighters Use Soda Can Alarm System

OMAHA, NE (KETV/CNN) – Emergency alert equipment is in such bad shape at some fire stations that firefighters have improvised a temporary system using soda cans.

Fire Union President Steve LeClair said he’s shocked by a video taken at Station 52, which shows a crude alarm system that uses the sound of falling soda cans to let firefighters know there’s an emergency.

"Think about that for where we are today in modern technology: somebody might miss a 911 emergency call because they did not hear the pop can fall," LeClair said.

When 911 dispatches firefighters to a call, loud tones normally ring throughout a station. But at stations 23 and 52, that alert is not working.

So, firefighters placed cans on top of what’s called “The Tear and Run” machine.

The machine vibrates and prints out calls as they come in, knocking the cans to the floor.

"It would almost be laughable, but it's not funny,” LeClair said. “It's a serious issue."

Omaha Fire Chief Dan Olsen said he was not aware that firefighters resorted to the soda can alert.

"It's unfortunate we have any problems with the current system, but that's why we are replacing it," Olsen said.

The public’s safety is not in jeopardy, because there have been no missed or delayed calls over the aging equipment, according to Olsen.

“We are replacing the system, OK?” Olsen said. “We are doing the best we can to replace an aging system."

In November 2016, voters approved a $2.4 million bond issue for state-of-the-art equipment. But the information technology and infrastructure work has yet to begin, frustrating LeClair, who said the city needs the new technology now.

"We might be resorting to telegraph and smoke signals," LeClair said.

The new system is set to be in place by the end of the summer, and officials said stations 52 and 23 will be the first ones to have it up and running.

Copyright 2018 KETV via CNN. All rights reserved.

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Firefighters use soda can alarm system