Bay Area fire chief defends emergency alert for charity event

PALO ALTO — A Northern California fire chief is defending his agency's use of a countywide emergency alert system to send residents information about a charity pancake breakfast.

The system, known as AlertSCC, sent messages to 27,000 people in Santa Clara County about Saturday's charity event at a park in Palo Alto, the Palo Alto Daily News reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/1corDbE ).

The event was intended to raise money for a city effort to prevent teen suicides. It drew attendees including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife and Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer and her son, the newspaper reported.

Fire Chief Eric Nickel said he did not intend to advertise the breakfast but authorized the alert because he was concerned residents might inundate the city's emergency dispatch center with calls related to one of the activities at the event: a rescue simulation with a helicopter.

The alert included a sentence about the rescue simulation.

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