THE BRONX - A federal judge has ruled against a plan to deactivate 15,000 fire alarm boxes, saying it would discriminate against the deaf and hearing-impaired.

The city had asked a judge to lift a 1996 injunction that blocked an earlier attempt to remove the call boxes. The city estimated that deactivation of the street-box system would save $6.3 million a year and also argued that most residents use cell phones for emergency calls.

The city had proposed an alternate plan using public pay phones with a tapping system that would allow the deaf to make emergency calls. The judge said public pay phones were unreliable.