Judge Blocks New York City From Removing Fire Alarm Boxes

August 17, 2011

A federal judge has ruled against a New York City plan to deactivate 15,000 fire alarm boxes, saying that doing so would discriminate against the deaf and hearing-impaired.

The fire department last year said the move would save the city $6 million in the first fiscal year. It also said cell phones had substantially reduced the use of alarm boxes and claimed that 85 percent of box calls were false alarms.

The city had proposed an alternate plan using public pay phones combined with a tapping system that would allow deaf callers to signal whether they needed emergency services.

In his ruling, Judge Robert Sweet said public pay phones were unreliable.

Lawyer Jonathan Pines said the city is disappointed with the court’s decision.

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