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Private interests v public responsibilities

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Bill Dwyer View Drop Down
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Joined: 31/August/2013
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    Posted: 15/September/2013 at 12:18pm

A federal lawsuit finally emerging into the media after three years will outline clearly the conflicted interests Mayor Anthony Calderone has regarding his personal business dealings and what municipal fire experts contend are public safety issues.

The lawsuit is a battle between private interests that want to maintain a for-profit fire alarm system versus an attempt by municipal fire protection organizations to improve and expedite fire alarms to fire departments.

The big dogs in the fight are Alarm Detection Services and industry giant ADT. But Calderone’s Illinois Alarm is also a plaintiff.

I’ve been following the case for three years, waiting for some resolution. Now you can read about it and decide for yourself whether Calderone's private business interests conflict with his public responsibilities for public safety. 

Get the Chicago Tribune’s story at:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0915-alarm-20130915,0,7896291.story

The civil suit pits publicly governed municipal fire protection districts and fire departments against privately owned fire alarm companies. The companies won a permanent court injunction- on limited grounds- against the fire protection district a while back, but other issues are far from settled. 

Fire alarm companies aren’t arguing that the new arrangement wouldn’t be quicker. They arguing against government monopoly power that can cost them profits.

The inunction went to appeal, but it appears whatever the result of that is, the main case is likely to proceed to trial on some remaining issues.

In the meantime, consider this. If you had a fire at your house, what would you prefer to do?

One- Call 911

Two- Call a neighbor and have them call 911. Or……

Three- Hit a button and the fire department be notified immediately of the problem.

What the hard-wired signal that fire protection districts favor would do, put in simple terms, is cut out the middleman. And that would save precious time. 

From the Tribune story:

“Based on the fire district's alarm testing in 2010, it took an average of 137 seconds from the time an alarm is triggered to the time the DuPage 911 center receives notification from a central station (private alarm company). The average response time with the district's wireless network was about seven seconds, LaPointe said.”

Fire departments, like alarm companies, are staffed 24-7. I’ve covered fires where it turned out the difference between 60 seconds and 90 seconds meant all the difference in the world.

Not only is the direct system faster, it’s cheaper.

From the Tribune story:

“Wheaton's assistant city manager, Michael Dzugan, said the city has seen a 50 percent reduction in the number of false alarms by switching from a wired system to a wireless alarm network three years ago. Wheaton charges customers $85 a month.”

Please, do not just take my word for it. There may be explanations for all of this. A perceived conflict of interest is not inherently illegal or even necessarily bad. But it does raise questions and demand answers.

And I simply can’t wait to hear Forest Park’s mayor weigh in on this issue, and explain to local businesses why he favors a system that is slower, less reliable and more expensive than the direct connection to fire department boards.

Mr. Mayor?

 



Edited by Bill Dwyer - 15/September/2013 at 12:20pm
Facts are a bitch and the truth most hurts the liars
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