Herrera Demand Letter Seeks to Avoid Litigation Against City’s Emergency Warning System Vendor

City Attorney Sets Year-End Deadline for Outdoor Notification System Vendor to Achieve Contract-Compliant Amplitude, Coverage

SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 11, 2005) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today sent a demand letter to the City’s outdoor warning system vendor, ATI Systems, charging the East Boston, Mass.-based company with material breach of contract for defective hardware that has caused the City’s newly upgraded emergency notification system to fail to achieve specified sound pressure levels, leaving significant areas of San Francisco without coverage in the event of an emergency.

Among the nation’s first large metropolitan areas to install a state of the art siren and public address system, San Francisco saw the installation of 288 loudspeakers (each powered by four separate drivers) at 63 siren sites in March of this year, under specifications requiring the sirens to operate at 126 decibels at 100 feet from the site, in order to achieve at least 90 percent coverage of the City. Following the installations by ATI last March, the siren system began a testing period every Tuesday at noon as part of what industry insiders refer to as the “burn in” phase. During that phase, hardware, software and drivers were found to have failed. After discovering that drivers needed to be replaced, the City demanded that ATI supply replacements, which the company did at no cost to the City. Yet even after ATI replaced the drivers, the newly upgraded loudspeakers were found to operate at under 115 decibels — not the 126 decibels to which ATI had agreed — covering only 50- to 60-percent of the City, far short of the 90-percent-or-better coverage sought in the agreement.

In his demand letter to the company this morning, Herrera expressed the City’s hope to avoid litigation in solving the problem, requesting that by November 28, 2005, ATI provide San Francisco “with (1) a comprehensive written plan to replace the defective drivers and correct all project work in accordance with the project specifications, and (2) a detailed work schedule demonstrating that ATI will replace all drivers and other system repairs by December 30, 2005.”

“On matters involving the public safety of our citizens, I intend to take the most aggressive posture possible to ensure compliance with City contracts,” Herrera said. “If Hurricane Katrina taught us anything, it’s that we all have a role to play in being prepared for disasters: emergency responders must be vigilant, the public must be ready, and City lawyers must be zealous advocates for the public interest. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with our demand letter to ATI Systems today.”