Investigation prompts changes to fire alarm service

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by Jesse Jones / KING 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 12:22 AM

Scan Alert, the communications line that connects fire alarms to security companies was set for elimination by CenturyLink on December 1.  In a Get Jesse Investigation, Fire Marshals and leaders in the security industry said the deadline would have left more than 2,000 buildings, including schools, condo and apartment buildings, without fire alarm service.

"If it was cut off immediately, there were at least 2,000 systems out there that would not be monitored for fire, that is truly a life and safety issue," said Margaret Spitnzas of Washington Electronic Security Association.

Spitznas and Redmond Assistant Fire Marshall Todd Short were worried there was not enough time to change systems before the deadline.

"There are only so many alarm vendors that can change these transmitters out," said Short.

After our investigation, Fire Marshalls and members of the security industry met with CenturyLink's Sue Anderson.  The company announced it would move the Scan Alert deadline to April 30, 2014.

"We understand that this is an important product to people out there and we understand that they need this product, and we were doing our best to work together to make a date that would work for all parties," said Anderson.

Short was grateful the company took time to hear concerns.

"We weren't able to get that door open to even have that conversation. Thanks to you, you opened that door and they heard us. So thanks to them too," said Short.

CenturyLink is dropping Scan Alert because it's a 1980's product with few, if any, replacement parts. 

"We really need customers to be actively working to get off Scan Alert to find a new product that will suit them going forward," said Anderson.

In the interim, if the Scan Alert system fails, buildings will have to go to fire watch.  That means someone, possibly fire personnel, will have to watch each building around the clock.

"It can be very expensive that's why we need people to get that transmitter changed out," said Short.

If you live or work in a building with the outdated system, ask your building owner if they've made the switch because this is something that can't wait.

"We want to make sure people are aware. This is not a time to wait until next year, we need to get this process going now," said Short.
 

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