Company silences alarm issue

A few days after Snyder Township officials mailed a warning to a local trucking company, its vice president said problems were addressed before the letter was sent.

Grove Dixon of Smith Transport said issues with an emergency alert system were fixed after alarm company experts worked for about three days at the trucking company’s warehouse along South Eagle Valley Road.

When an alarm sounds at the Smith Transport warehouse, it sets off a series of events, which ultimately notify Blair County 911 dispatchers, who in turn call out emergency responders.

While the system is designed to encourage a prompt response, Smith Transport’s alarms sounded at times when there was no emergency.

However, Smith Transport’s system became a problem because alarms had been activated when there was no emergency.

“There’s been numerous false alarms,” township Emergency Management Coordinator Dale Murray said last week.

Murray and other local leaders said they feared the high volume of unwarranted calls could lead to a “boy who cried wolf” situation — as more false alarms come from the same address, emergency personnel may be more reluctant to respond, creating a safety problem in the case of a real emergency.

In Snyder Township, false alarms are prohibited by ordinance, and township secretary Ann Dillon said last week that “Smith Transport is in violation of this ordinance and letters have been sent.” Repeated violations could lead to fines, the ordinance stipulates.

Smith Transport employees were well aware of the problem by that time, Dixon said late last week.

The false alarms were the result of a fault in the warehouse’s sprinkler system, Dixon said, explaining one of the sprinklers was set so that it was five times more sensitive than normal.

“We have no idea how that happened,” he said.

In all, the warehouse alarm sounded about 20 times, Dixon said, noting the alarms did not summon large-scale response from local fire companies each time.

“Really only four times resulted in someone coming out,” he said, noting subsequent alarms did little to rouse responders. “They knew enough at that point not to come out.”

Now that the problematic system was repaired, false alarms are no longer an issue, Dixon said. On Sunday afternoon, Murray agreed.

“We’ve not had any alarms out there for some time,” Murray said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.