Akron’s new computer-controlled alarm system for its fire stations is designed to reduce response times and save lives. But it may also have a life-saving side-benefit for firefighters, because of the way it uses measured tones to alert them.
Heart attacks and stress-related health crises kill more firefighters than all other hazards of the job combined. Deputy Akron Fire Chief Charles Twigg says the shock of sudden alerts from deafening horns or bells is a contributor to that problem, and that research shows it’s a cumulative contributor over time.
The new alarm system has an engineered tone that’s less jarring, less harmful to hearing, and includes a build up to full volume. “Over a career’s worth of alarms that it will cut down on the number of times that the heart accelerates rapidly when the adrenaline dumps in. And it’ll be more beneficial for the long-term health and hopefully cut down on the incidents of heart attacks and such.”
Money for the new system is coming from the income tax increase passed by voters in 2017 designated for the city's safety forces..