BROOKLYN - 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 asked a judge to lift a 1996 injunction that blocked an earlier attempt to remove the call boxes.

The city estimated that the deactivation of the street-box system would save $6.3 million a year. It also argued that most residents use cell phones for emergency calls.

Members of the deaf community are applauding the judge?s decision, saying it will keep thousands of hearing-impaired New Yorkers safe.

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.