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Two teens caught pulling firebox alarm in Roslindale, officials say

Posted by Roy Greene  December 21, 2012 12:53 PM

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By Melissa M. Werthmann, Globe Correspondent

Two 14-year-old boys will appear in court after they were caught pulling a firebox alarm in Roslindale, said Steve MacDonald, spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.

The call boxes are stationed throughout the city as a backup system for people to report an emergency if other methods fail.

“You pull the lever, we show up,” MacDonald said.

Once a firebox lever is pulled, a fire truck and a fire engine respond to the scene within four minutes, he said.

But firefighters realized a trend of false alarms coming from the call box on the corner of Brown Avenue and Rowe Street in Roslindale.

“It was falsely being pulled, roughly in the same time period over the past couple weeks,” he said.

The fire investigation unit sent a surveillance crew to the Roslindale intersection Thursday afternoon to wait for the perpetrators, he said.

“At 2 p.m. they saw two 14-year-old boys go up to the street box and pull the lever,” MacDonald said.

The fire investigators detained the two boys, recorded their information, and issued a summons for them to appear in court, he said.

The clerk magistrate will decide whether to send the case to court or seek other options, like having the teenagers attend counseling classes, he said.

“It’ll depend on the circumstances and the background of the two teenagers who did it,” he said.

MacDonald was not sure exactly how many times the firebox had been falsely pulled, but said it was “enough to draw the attention of the investigators.”

Maintaining the firebox systems costs less than one percent of the Boston Fire Department’s budget, he said.

“They’re a backup system or a redundancy in how people can notify us for emergencies,” MacDonald said. “We acknowledge that most people use telephones or cell phones to call for help.”

The call systems are especially important because they run on underground wires rather than electricity, and would work in the case of a blackout or cell towers that are down, he said. There is also no language barrier for people to report an emergency.

“They are a good insurance policy for the people of Boston,” MacDonald said. “In case nothing else works, these will work.”

People pull the alarms for fires, car accidents, or if they feel unsafe walking at night, and false alarms can tie up resources, he said.

“It does draw the firefighters out of the fire house, but we’re on duty 24 hours a day and that’s our job, to help,” MacDonald said.

Melissa Werthmann can be reached at

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