Sa, 2.12.2023

Editorial: false alarms of systemic order

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Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

Though increasingly used and vital considering the ever dearer human labour, automatic alarm systems need to possess this simple distinctive quality – they must work, technically and system-wise.

Alas, not so with our automatic fire alarms system. Of the 4,105 signals sent last year, only 79 happened to be fires. The year before, it was 4,294 and 52 respectively. The costs are hundreds of thousands of euros and we the taxpayers must pay up. And, while the waste-trip is going on, somebody somewhere may really need the help.

And then there’s the question of trust. Why the expensive systems if is such a joke? And increasingly so, tell the statistics.

In 2014, Estonia lost 54 people in fires. Rescue Board has set the aim of arriving at Nordic level, a decade from now. That would mean a four-five-fold decrease from today. That will come thru prevention and raised awareness only. Meanwhile, with large buildings with hundreds of people in them – like shopping centres, schools and hospitals – the automatic fast alarm option is obviously a must. 

But again – they will need to work. It’s not just the system, it’s the whole chain attached – who has the right and responsibility to install the system and then to provide maintenance. The weak links need to be found out, replaced, and the law improved if need be.

The Soviet interlude had its dusty labels someplace on a wall or desktop telling us the name of a comrade answering for fire security. The comrade may have left the institution or, if still around, forgotten all about the rusting extinguisher on some wall. Of course, when an important official’s visit loomed, the thing may have been wiped clean.

But... we would not like to still be there, do we?