York City's 127-year-old fire-alarm system is stubbornly sticking around.

Twice, members of the York City Council have narrowly rejected proposals that would have phased out the Gamewell system.

Most recently, the council voted 3-2 last week against a proposal from Councilman Michael Helfrich that would have allowed commercial properties to opt out of the Gamewell connection requirement, as long as the city's fire chief approved the property's use of an alternative system.

Helfrich said he was "trying to find a happy medium" that would relieve some businesses of a financial burden without denying other properties the security of a system that, its advocates contend, is still the fastest fire-alarm system available.

Helfrich's "opt-out" proposal would have spared new businesses the expense of hooking into Gamewell, a cost of about $5,000.

But, Helfrich said, he's most concerned about maintaining the street boxes -- about 90 throughout the city -- that give the general public direct access to the fire department.

Triggered manually or by the presence of smoke, Gamewell immediately delivers an electronic signal directly to fire stations. Ringing bells tell the firefighters to get going.

Private companies offer modern systems that can also be triggered by smoke detectors. However, those systems typically require a company representative to alert 911 dispatchers, who in turn alert the fire department.

The city's public works director has estimated the city's Gamewell system needs more than $730,000 worth of repairs.

In a 3-2 vote in October, the council rejected a proposal to gradually shut the system down -- and, in turn, spare the city the cost of repair.

The majority was swayed by the argument, backed by the firefighters' union, that Gamewell provides the city with the most security.

"As far as I'm concerned, this was already voted on," said Council President Carol Hill-Evans, before she voted against Helfrich's proposal last week.

-- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.