Two 14-year-old boys are to appear in court after being caught pulling a firebox alarm in Roslindale on Thursday, said Steve MacDonald, spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.
The call boxes are placed at many locations in 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 in a telephone interview Friday.
Once a firebox lever is pulled, a fire truck and a fire engine respond to the scene within four minutes, he said.
But firefighters spotted 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.
A clerk magistrate will decide whether to send the case to court or impose other options, such as having the teenagers attend counseling classes, MacDonald said. “It’ll depend on the circumstances and the background of the two teenagers who did it.”
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 1 percent of the department’s budget, he said. “They’re a backup system or a redundancy in how people can notify us for emergencies. We acknowledge that most people use telephones or cellphones to call for help.”
The call systems are especially important because they use underground wires and would work in case of a blackout or cell towers that are down, he said. There is also no language barrier for people to report an emergency.