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Second Avenue Subway’s fire alarm system has been offline since May

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Contractors are reprogramming the system but it won’t be back online until December

Max Touhey for Curbed

If it weren’t bad enough to learn that the Second Avenue Subway has yet to obtain its final safety certificate, here’s another cause for concern: the subway line’s fire alarm system has been offline since May 14.

Internal memos sent to board members by MTA chief development officer Janno Lieber, and obtained by Politico, reveal that the fire alarms have been off for the past five months and needs to be reprogrammed following an incident in May. An undisclosed programming error resulted in an “erroneous activation of the fire alarm system triggered the water mist system at the 86th Street station,” causing a one-week closure of the 83rd Street station entrance due to damaged escalators after they were soaked by the sprinkler system.

Contractors are scheduled to replace the entire fire alarm and water mist system but the task won’t be complete until December. In the meantime, the MTA has contracted “fire safety professionals” that are responsible for keeping watch for fires on a 24/7 basis. Per the memo, contractors will cover the $6.5 million cost of the fire safety monitors.

In September, the New York Times reported that the Second Avenue Subway still had 7,264 defects that had not been addressed, despite the MTA agreeing to fix outstanding problems within 60 days of when the line opened. Nevertheless, an MTA spokesperson maintains that the subway stations “are completely safe and they have been since the day they opened.” Right.