CA Fire Department Uses Emergency Alert System for Charity Event

The Palo Alto (CA) Fire Department is under fire after using the local emergency alert system to draw attention to its charity pancake breakfast.

Fire Chief Eric Nickel defended his department’s use of the alert system, known as AlertSCC, to the San Jose Mercury News (

Nickel said he authorized the message out of concern that residents might flood the city’s emergency dispatch center as a result of one of the activities scheduled for the event. The Stanford Life Flight helicopter was to take part in a rescue simulation, and Nickel feared residents might be mistake the scenario for a real emergency.

The message was sent to 27,000 people, and Nickel said he has received fewer than 10 complaints.

Read more about the situation at

For more on related fire service issues, consider New Technologies Focus on First Responder “Capability Gaps” and Needs, Part 2, Drill Validates FDNY’s Management/Technical Operations Task Force, Preparing for a Major Fire Department Celebration, and Managing the Information Flow at Large-Scale Emergency Incidents.

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