‘Miscommunication’ leaves alert system unengaged after fire

By: Nick Powers | C&G Newspapers | Published April 12, 2024


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Nixle, the emergency alert system the township uses to alert residents who sign up, was not engaged following the explosive fire at the Goo Smoke Shop on March 4.

“I was a little surprised and dismayed that an emergency alert did not go out on the night of the explosion,” resident Flora Marie Cusumano said at the township board’s March 18 meeting.

“There was a miscommunication as to who was going to turn it on,” Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said. “We’re very sorry. We’ve taken steps to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

“Nixle should have been an option used along with social media channels,” Community Relations Director Jim Perpich stated in an email. “It was not.”

The alerts don’t engage when a fire occurs, according to outgoing Clinton Township Fire Chief Tim Duncan. Cannon said this contributed to miscommunication about who was going to send the alert out.

“That’s the only thing we did not use to communicate to our residents,” Cannon said. “We used every other medium that we have.”

Perpich said the criteria for the alert system will change following the March 4 explosion.

“Prior to March 4, the Township’s Emergency Management Department used Nixle mostly for what the county uses IPAWS for—weather and flood advisories,” he said. “It’s also used for power outages and traffic conditions. However, an emergency on the scale of the explosion and fire meets the criteria to use any and all communication channels, including Nixle.”

According to Perpich, the township’s Emergency Management Department and Community Relations & Media Services handle the Nixle alerts. While the Nixle system wasn’t utilized, residents were informed through outlets like the Clinton Township Police Department’s Facebook page.

“The township primarily informs the public through Nextdoor (22,012 members), Civic Center Facebook page (3,908 followers), and website (1,791 subscribers)” Perpich said in the email. “Currently, the Township has 4,313 email and text subscribers through Nixle.”