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Menlo fire board rejects planned limited disaster communication system rollout

Original post made on Aug 27, 2019

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District board voted not to move ahead with an audio mass alert system for earthquakes, fires, floods and other natural disasters because of a disagreement about how the program should be implemented.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 27, 2019, 11:00 AM

Comments (11)

5 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Thank goodness for Bernstein and McLaughlin for not being rubber stamps. Not coordinating with law enforcement and other agencies is a recipe for confusion and potentially making a bad situation worse.


4 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Great job on the part of 2 fire board members:

Vote against an alert system that is not coordinated with any other system(s)

Vote against hiring a headhunter, not looking at current employees in the district.

The chief should know better!!!!!!


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

MPFPD has always been one of the most innovative fire agencies in the nation.

MPFPD led the way to San Mateo County dispatch consolidation and did not wait until everybody else saw the wisdom of that innovation. Today every fire agency in the County uses the consolidated dispatch system that evolved from that innovation.

MPFPD led the way in requiring CalTans to install access doors along 101 over the entire length of the Fire District. MPFPD did not wait until such doors were the state-wide standard.

MPFPD led the way in being one of only two FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces that is not based on a a large urban fire department.

MPFPD led the way in the use of drones and was one of the first fire agencies to receive FAA operating approval for its use of those drones. MPFPD did not wait until everyone agreed on how fire agencies should use this new technology.

Innovation by definition requires moving before everyone else has decided to implement a new procedure or technology.

Silicon Valley has been a great success because organizations were willing to innovate.

It would be a disservice to the citizens of the Fire District if the Fire Board losses the wisdom and willingness to continue its long history of innovation.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 28, 2019 at 7:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Bernstein said he thinks the district needs a plan to roll out the LRAD system throughout its entire coverage area before installing the device in East Palo Alto."

East Palo Alto has the greatest unmet emergency notification need of any portion of the Fire District. There is a lower level of internet access and a lower level of cell phone ownership. It is stupid, if not criminal, to hold the emergency notification needs of East Palo Alto hostage to an idealized District wide policy.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 30, 2019 at 5:22 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is interesting to note that the Fire District has sponsored and supported the Walsh Road warning siren in Atherton for years without anybody including Bernstein complaining about the fact that it was not part of a District wide alert system.

One standard for Atherton and another for East Palo Alto? Such hypocrisy.


1 person likes this
Posted by W
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2019 at 8:25 am

1950s technology in 2019. Everyone has a phone today. And if you don’t you’re standing next to someone who does.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 30, 2019 at 8:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Everyone has a phone today"

Then why did so many people die in the Paradise fire because they did not receive phone alerts?

And why are so few people in San Mateo County even signed up for phone alerts?

And what happens when the cell towers go down?

Why does Walsh Road have a siren alert system?

The fact is that phone alerts simply do not work.

We need to explore ALL methods of emergency notification and putting an LRAD at Station 2 provides both immediate value and a learning opportunity.

If the Fire District adopts Bernstein's model of perpetual analysis and stops innovating we are doomed to live in the past.


2 people like this
Posted by FirstResponder
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Aug 31, 2019 at 8:21 am

W is right. Everybody in the Bay Area has a phone or is in direct contact with someone who does. The simple fact is that people are apathetic. They don’t heed warnings. You could have sirens on every corner and there would still be a large contingents that would ignore them until it was too late. That’s why the people of paradise died. Simple apathy. It’s as old as humans. Just wait and see how many idiots this weekend die from Hurricane Dorian because they didn’t listen.

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 8, 2019 at 6:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The headline is wrong - the Board did NOT reject the LRAD installation at Station 2.

The vote was 2-2 and when it comes back to the Board, after strong community support, I predict the Board will vote to approve this life saving service to the residents in EPA as being comparable to the Atherton centric Walsh Road siren system.

One size does not fit all and wisdom and equity demand that the residents of East palo Alto receive as much consideration as do the residents of Atherton.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So now that you have seen how vulnerable cell phone alert systems are to a power outage do you understand why a stand alone audible alert system located at a fire station that has emergency generator makes so much sense?


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 29, 2019 at 11:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"California’s recent power shut-offs, meant to reduce the risk of potentially catastrophic fires, have had an unwelcome side effect. The blackouts have also cut power to many cellphone towers, blocking the main communications source for many in harm’s way."

Web Link

This is why stand alone audible alert systems located at fire stations that have standby power are CRITICAL warning systems.

In most disasters cell phones and cell phone alerts simply will NOT work.


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