The Detroit Fire Department’s DIY Soda Can Alarm System


Just like the rest of the city, Detroit’s fire department is dreadfully underfunded. According to Detroit Free Press reporter Tresa Baldas, they’re so broke that they’ve had to devise their own DIY emergency alarm systems because they simply do not have the funding to install proper ones.

Each of Detroit’s 38 firehouses has its own makeshift emergency alarm system in place, rather than a modern system that could improve their response time by giving them details about the type of emergency through a combination of tones and an automated voice. One such emergency alarm consists of a soda can, with a few coins or screws inside of it, carefully placed on the edge of a fax machine. The alarm sounds when a fax gets printed out, knocking off the soda can with a tinny clang.

Hopefully, Detroit’s fire department will be receiving funding from the city to update their systems over the next ten years. In the meantime, this could be an opportunity for makers to reach out to Detroit’s firehouses to update their DIY alarms with some more affordable and effective systems. I can’t say how receptive the Detroit fire department might be to suggestions, but it seems like it couldn’t hurt to try, in fact, it might actually help!

[via Gizmodo]


Artist, writer, and teacher who makes work about popular culture, technology, and traditional craft processes.

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