Calif. fire chief defends use of text-message alert for pancake breakfast

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A fire chief in Palo Alto, Calif., is defending his department’s use of the county emergency text-messaging alert system last weekend to inform 27,000 people of a charity pancake breakfast.

Fire Chief Eric Nickel said the reason for the alert was to inform nearby residents of both the pancake breakfast and that a Life Flight helicopter would be landing at a local school for a demonstration, an incident that has prompted 911 calls in the past, CBS San Francisco reported.


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“FWD: ALERTSCC: Palo Alto Firefighters will be hosting a Community Pancake Breakfast Saturday October 12th, please find us on Facebook and Twitter for more details,” the first text message read.

“If I had to do it again, I probably would have put [mention of] the helicopter in the first or second sentence,” Mr. Nickel lamented.

At least ten residents complained to the police department that the message was a misuse of the county’s alert system.

“We’ll take a look at utilizing some of those other technologies, and possibly reserving the alert SCC for that emergency notification only,” Mr. Nickel told KPIX-TV.

The station reported that the pancake breakfast turned out to be a huge success, raising nearly $10,000 for a local charity.

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