CenturyLink announced this spring that it would shut down a widely used fire alarm monitoring system on December 1. Now the heat is on alarm companies and building owners across the region to replace the out-dated alarm system. According to fire marshals, this is a serious problem.
"Not enough companies, not enough time," said Redmond Deputy Fire Marshal Todd Short.
Short said thousands of buildings in the Seattle area, including 12 schools in the Lake Washington School District, still haven't made the switch. CenturyLink extended an original deadline by several months this summer but alarm companies still can't get the work done fast enough.
"All of our efforts to get these scan alerts taken care of, there's just too many in the time they gave us. We didn't get them all changed out and we won't by December 1," explained Short.
We were the first to tell you about this issue, and now a solution maybe on the way. CenturyLink says it will hold a conference call Thursday with fire officials and industry experts to talk about moving the deadline. Margaret Spitznas, president of the Washington Electronic Security Association, will be on the call and she can't wait to make her case.
"We're so excited as an industry! This is all we wanted. We have been trying to appeal to them to allow us to even have the conversation and we have repeatedly been told it's a firm date and it can't change," said Spitznas.
In the meantime, the Lake Washington School District is still trying to install the new equipment in its schools and administration building.
"We believe we're in good shape to make the deadline. We've purchased the equipment, we're working through the permitting process with the city of Redmond right now. We think we are going to make the deadline," said Kathryn Reith, spokesperson for the school district.
In a statement CenturyLink told me:
"The decision to discontinue Scan Alert was made after we were informed that the sole vendor for Scan Alert had stopped manufacturing and supporting the necessary equipment, which means existing units cannot be repaired or replaced and may become prone to future outages."
Everyone agrees Scan Alert needs to go. The issue is timing because no one wants thousands buildings without any coverage at all. We'll continue to follow this story and will have details on CenturyLink's final decision in the coming days.