Fire Trucks: for the record Ed : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The Seattle Post Intelligencer had a front page article concerning Sea-Tacoma airport this morning. Mostly saying they are ready but not ready.

Quote from Bill Swedish, Port chief technology officer. "We did discover Y2K problems aboard the airports fire trucks," Swedish said. "They have been fixed."

Please note the Post Intelligencer does not archive new stories due to a dispute with its parent company the Seattle Times. Bummer

Martin in SUNNY Seattle

-- Martin Thompson (, March 06, 1999


Martin, Justin, Dan --

Thanks for the research -- I appreciate it! I'm adding a postscript to the article on my web site, which points to this thread.


-- Ed Yourdon (, March 07, 1999.

Honolulu firechief said the ladders carry lines of code,and will not work on their firetrucks.(unless there fixed)

-- Justin Case (justin, March 06, 1999.

As of November, 1998:

Douglas County Wisconsin had purchased seven new fire engines over the past 22 months. It was called to the attention of Keith, the new Doublas County Emergency Government Director, that the engines all contained multiple computers. Keith ordered that the fire engines be tested. A representative from the manufacturer was brought in. All date clocks in the fire engines were advanced to January 01, 2000. Of the seven new fire engines, four refused to start when the date tracking maintenance computer programming calculated that it had been 98 years since the fire engines had been serviced (test was conducted late in 1998). Remedial work is underway.

As soon as the clocks were rolled back to the correct date, the four engines started normally.

-- Dan (, March 06, 1999.

Sorry doombrood,

Burden of proof is on you. Name, Make, Model of said engines that WON'T START or you are just more BS'ers.

Use your common sense, if you have any! can you imagine the lawsuits that would result from a malfunction of an embedded system...on the way to a call?!? NOONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD EVER MARKET SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

While it is possible that add on systems *could* (that is could, mind you) have date problems...same rule applies..

Show me da FACTS, baby!

Put up... or Shut up. without that, you only add to the NOISE...

-- Mutha Nachu (, March 08, 1999.

As Ed said at the beginning of the article, (Not quoting him), we , or he could get sued for disclosing the info you ask for. Sorry it makes you so mad.I think it was De Jager that had to close his "whistle Blower" web because of lawsuits.Y2K is about companys making mistakes, that's why were in this trillion dollar mess. I've always found it safer to live where the code says to not build taller then the highest coconut tree. Good for earthquakes, hurricanes and more. God bless you.

-- Justin Case (justin, March 08, 1999.

Dan, Thanks for the info. Under Wisconsin open records law, we should be able to get copies of any documents referencing the those problems. Do you have a contact name, address, and phone? That way I could copies to pass along here.


-- john hebert (, March 08, 1999.

Mad? AHHH HAH HAH ha ha!NO WAY! This forum is a source of constant amusement... I skip the news in the morning, just so I can start my day with a hardy belly-laugh!... but enough on that...

Let me see if I've got this straight. The Pessimist's argument has long been, "we want 100% compliancy statements" in regards to banking, telco, power, transport, etc.

When the moderates (or Optimist's) said, "Can't get those because of legal issues" it is viewed as 'cover-up', dis-information, or 'PR "spin"'. And the y2k religion continued to grow.

Now, when the moderates have begun asking for proof of failures (some have asked for this from the start), you pipe up with, "we , or he could get sued for disclosing the info you ask for" Yet you forge ahead in your belief system (y2k is gonna be bad...nothing can stop that).

hmmm... so explain to me why I can't just dismiss these alleged 'failures' (the only that comes close is a ladder that supposedly had 'bad code' and had to have the date set back 28 years for a quick fix... and I can't even verify that info) using your same logic structure?

I believe the problem about this stems from the ever popular "urban legends" that have gotten way outta hand in regards to year 2000.

Fi re truck urban legends exposed in TIME



Over two years ago, the head of the State of Texas Y2k Project idly mentioned at a meeting that "I think we should check into all the State's emgency vehicles to make sure there are no problems with anything like a Fire Department Truck or an Ambulance".

Somehow, the comments were transcribed into minutes of the meeting and later posted onto the web site reports as "there is a problem with Fire Department Trucks which could be as high as XX %." This grew to be vehicles "would not start after 1/1/2000" because of "bad chips". No hard core information was ever given and I decided this was a candidate for Urban Legend. It turned out to be TYPICAL of "embedded stories".

Months later, the story started "making the rounds" at Y2k Seminars as "the" example of problems with Embedded chips.

~~~end snip~~~~~~~

So... I'll say it again. "put up or shut up"... it definitely applies to this, as well as many other areas concerning year 2000 roll-over.

Assumptions do not a valid argument make. Burden of proof belongs to those who make the claims. Otherwise, I could claim

"the earth will stop rotating 17 months from now, for a period of 68 days. I don't care if you believe must prove me wrong. And until you do that, it would be 'wise and prudent' to "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst" my book circular reasoning is's all explained within. Oh, BTW I have 30+ years in astronomy and other space-sciences fields."

Can you prove that my statement is wrong?

Makes ya wanna run out and by a cave somewhere...don't it.

-- Mutha Nachu (, March 08, 1999.

Can you PROVE you won't need auto insurance in the next 12 months, Mutha Nachu?

-- (, March 08, 1999.

Hmmm, this thread, as well as reading Ed's comments in answer to an Email about fire truck readiness, prompts me to make a suggestion: Go over to your friendly firehouse/station and ask the firemen themselves about this. (Observe whether they seem to be evasive, but press in.) On March 20, I will be part of a 4-person Y2K Preparedness Panel that I coordinated. One of the presenters is the assistant fire chief in this city; he's also part of the city's emergency management services. Yes....I will ask him! Granny Holly P.S. Here's another person to question: your local gas station manager. Will the pumps work on 01/01/00? Have they actually been tested? It would be interesting to read answers to these questions on this website, wouldn't it!

-- Holly Allen (, March 08, 1999.


You have the sequences of allegation and counter claim down pat. I even emailed some of the guys from the Texas report asking for details. Never heard boo from them. In addition to the press debunking I received copy of debunking from one a legal eagle listserve. Hey, that satisfied me.

However, Dan makes an allegation I hadn't heard before and it is real close to home. Wisconsin open records law provides a tool to get copies of records that could confirm what Dan is telling us. My vote is to give the guy a chance.

Heck - I've already been made to look like a liar when I took the embedded chip challange. I forwarded info I had been given at a Y2K user's group meeting by the utility itself. When the embedded chip challenge folks contacted the utility they were told no, there wasn't a problem with the front end loaders "we don't know where that rumor started"... (Silly me, I guess I just didn't realize the utilities embedded chip comment was a joke. I guess I'm just taking this Y2K thing way too seriously)


I'll work with you on this if you like - can get you copies of an open records request form. However, a lot folks in gov't are more than willing to help. Its part of their job and often will provide copies of info just for the asking (they may have to charge for copying - depends on volume and policy). I'd save the open records requests if run into refusals or stalling.



-- john hebert (, March 08, 1999.

I just spoke with Kieth Kesler of Douglas County Emergency Management concerning the readiness of fire trucks in Douglas County, Wisconsin. The information submitted by Dan is totally untrue. There have been no testing of fire trucks which involved rolling clocks forward to test systems. Therefore, there have been no failures. I am curious about how lies like this get started....

-- Rhonda (, March 12, 1999.

Thanks Rhonda.

You're up Dan,

Can we get the minutes of the meeting from Douglas County to substantiate? If not, maybe some of the firefighters to tell us what they've seen...


-- john hebert (, March 12, 1999.

...and still we wait...

"dan...DAN....where are you m'boy?.....anyone?....."

-- Mutha Nachu (, March 23, 1999.


Yeah, and there have NEVER been any medical device recalls by the manufacturers either. Dumbass.


-- karen (, March 23, 1999.

...oh, Daaaaaaaaan.....

(whistle) still waiting....

-- Mutha Nachu (, April 04, 1999.

Maybe you should hang out on the corner Mutha. You know show your stuff (bring it to the top baby).

-- Wiseguy (, April 04, 1999.

"Mad? AHHH HAH HAH ha ha!NO WAY! This forum is a source of constant amusement... I skip the news in the morning, just so I can start my day with a hard......"

Mutha F, we really aren't interested in what you get up to first thing in the morning.

-- Andy (, April 04, 1999.

No Andy, what "we" are really interested in are your wacko conspiracy theories. ROTFLMAO!!!!!

-- Amused (amused@laughing.hard), April 04, 1999.

Oh, and your fascination with Mother Shipton's prophecies...

-- Amused (Amused@laughing.hard), April 04, 1999.

Thanks Amused, i do try to entertain :)

-- Andy (, April 04, 1999.

Isn't the attention this single example gets revealing -

The problem is NOT one example of one part of one little section of the problem - even if the whole "fire truck" issue were revealed to be incorrect - the whole issue of year 2000-related problems and failures is not disproved by one example of a false rumor.

For example, no one has found why the news media persists in its ridiculous "...airplanes falling from the sky ... exaggerated misstatements, but nobody calls them on the carpet to repent. The original problem was reported in Baton Rouge, and it was reported from the Baton Rouge fire department - good, they checked, they found a problem, they can fix it.

Now, we need to check other departments, and other installations. If nothing is found, good....check something else. There are 100,000,000 potential problems out there; go look for the next real one.

Because to the one person who life was lost due to a failure of equipment - at any level - the other 99,999,999 "successes" don't mean a thing. She's still dead.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 05, 1999.

pssst....Andrew....pull your pants up; your ignorance is showing

-- Mutha Nachu (, April 05, 1999.

Sir Robert,

I hadn't seen a Baton Rouge reference before. Any chance you can point us at a reference? Thanks.

-- john hebert (, April 05, 1999.


-- (....@....), April 12, 1999.

The Baton Rouge reference:


"Representatives from the City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told us about testing the Y2K status of equipment on their fire trucks. To their great relief, they found that the trucks water pumps are year 2000 compliant. To their dismay, however, it turned out that the mechanisms operating their ladders will not work without Y2K repairs. This is a fine illustration of how the Y2K problem can pop up where you least expect it. Further, as Baton Rouge reported on its findings, representatives from the City of New Orleans admitted they had never thought to test their fire trucks.


-- Kevin (, April 12, 1999.

Another article on Baton Rouge:


John Jacobs: Y2K bug -- The scariest computer creepy-crawly

(Published Sept. 24, 1998)

WASHINGTON -- When U.S. Rep. Steve Horn of Long Beach, was conducting hearings around the country recently on the "Year 2000" problem -- also known as Y2K and "the millennium bug" -- he was startled by testimony from local fire department chiefs in Louisiana.

The fire chief in Baton Rouge told Horn that his department checked on whether imbedded computer chips in water pumps on his city fire trucks would work when clocks turned to Jan. 1, 2000, the cue that could cause many computers around the world to fail unless the chips are replaced or made "compliant." Happily, the chief found that the pumps would work. Unfortunately, the imbedded chips that control the trucks' ladders would not.

"That's OK, as long as the fires in Baton Rouge are limited to the first floor," Horn said at a recent conference on the computer problem. "But then the New Orleans fire chief said, 'Gee, we hadn't even thought to check our fire trucks.' "


-- Kevin (, April 12, 1999.

And another article on Baton Rouge:


Many computers originally programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a year wont work properly after Jan. 1, 2000, when machines will assume it is 1900. Some computers can be reprogrammed, but many devices have embedded microchips that must be physically replaced.

For example, Horn said, the city of Baton Rouge, La., reported that water pumps on its fire trucks arent affected by the Year 2000 problem, but the truck ladders wont work without repairs.


-- Kevin (, April 12, 1999.


Thanks for the followup and the links. Well Mutha, can you debunk the .gov Kevin showed us?


-- john hebert (, April 12, 1999.

well i'm not mutha but i'll give it a go. point 1 - all three articles are newsstorys everybody knows sensational news sells better. point 2 - the stories are full of the same old imbeded statements of 50 billion chips. this tells me somebody doesn't know what they are talking about. point 3 - i'm not sure but wasn't the point of this thread that firetrucks wouldn't start because of y2k? none of the newstorys mention that.

-- Not a meme (millenium@ction.committee), April 12, 1999.

I have been told by an Automobile Assoc. employee that owners of working vintage fire engines have been contacted to obtain their permission for use in y2k, in the event that the modern fire engines do not work

yes really

-- dick of the dale (rdale, April 12, 1999.

Well, well, well....

Imagine my suprize to see this thread still alive! Amazing!

Jh you said:

Thanks for the followup and the links. Well Mutha, can you debunk the .gov Kevin showed us?


-- john hebert (, April 12, 1999.

??? why would I do that? While Kev's post is not technically 'bait & switch' it is 'switch'... I stated above that the line about fire trucks not starting due to Year2000 rollover was BULL, and asked Dan to prove what he said.

"All date clocks in the fire engines were advanced to January 01, 2000. Of the seven new fire engines, four refused to start when the date tracking maintenance computer programming calculated that it had been 98 years since the fire engines had been serviced (test was conducted late in 1998). Remedial work is underway.

As soon as the clocks were rolled back to the correct date, the four engines started normally."

I assumed that the lack of response from Dan fit under the "shut-up" portion of 'put or shut-up' (admitting he lied would be a better response) NOTHING that Kevin posted dealt with this...

As far as the truck-ladder part, I can buy that. (note my earlier posts) also the easy fix is to set the date back. big deal. I have also heard of other add-on equipment that had problems dealing with roll-over...the fix? RESET. simple. no big deal.

The whole point of my posts to this thread (as Not a meme observed) is the exaggeration of factoids and outright lying. IT HAS TO STOP. More people need to start calling these fear-mongers on their BS artistry...

Moderates are called 'myopic' all the time... but the funny thing is, if you look at each individual portion of 'y2k' you see the same kinds of things...

I suppose I could go on... but why? The Doom & Gloom Cultists are guilty of the "yeah, but..." syndrome. De-bunk one area and they bait and switch or try and pull a bunch of unrelated hear-say into the discussion... And I refuse to do anymore homework for them. (I would supply some links to the above stuff, but have found that the people I know that 'un-got it' did so thru independant research. Good ammo against the MEME.)

BUT, try looking here or here (til its pulled)

dick/dale: Nice contingency plan...somewhat poetic, no?

-- Mutha Nachu (, April 12, 1999.

Interesting login id there - Have you heard this old nautical poem:

Red sky at night - sailors' delight.

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.

In the Northern hemisphere, a red sky (an early morning "orangy glow") foretells of a coming storm and bad, very threatening weather. A red sky at evening (in the west) indicates clear skies and good weather, and steady winds the next day.

Now, just what warning did you mean to give us readers here?

Certainly not all impacts will be serious or un-recoverable. Many. like these about fire trucks - will be in totally unexpected locations though. Many can be worked through - as you correctly pointed out. Others cannot be "reset" or "replaced" though - by the consumer or the user or the "fire chief" - only by buying the new part - if it is available in time from the original maker.

Unless you're a bureacratic and can no longer think for yourself but have to read the book, and follow the procedure .......

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 13, 1999.


Thanks for the quick refresher on logic 101 - you are correct. Point well taken; keep on keeping us honest.

FYI, my intent wasn't 'bait and switch' (even though there was a switch) but I was simply seeking factually verifiable information on firetrucks. You see, my community is served by a fantastic volunteer fire department. I'd like to pass any verified info along to our local heros but I sure as heck don't want to send them on a wild goose chase.

From previous posts on this thread you know that I tried chased down the starting issue long before this thread started and was satified it had been debunked. However, I try to keep an open mind and will consider new information. The time frame for Dan's post put in my possible new information category.

From personal experience, I'm not prepared to call anyone who presents what they believe valid embedded chip info a liar. I mentioned earlier on this thread that I had been made to look like a liar when I took an embedded chip challenge. I had the company, equipment in question, model, subassembly, and the cost of replacement. When the organization seeking verification of the problem contacted this company it was told no there wasn't a problem "we don't know where that rumor got started". I know where that "rumor" got started. It was at a Wisconsin Y2K user's group meeting. The "rumor" was started by the company's Y2K guy. And the "rumor" was heard by a roomful of Y2K managers. I try to be objective and when talking fact want to talk facts, it bothers me that the information provided to a group of professionals in so much detail suddenly becomes unsubstantiated rumor when verification was requested.

Mutha, I'm in the trenches up to my elbows in Y2K, and it seems every time I think I get a handle on things, someone changes the rules. Its frustrating as hell for me, but worse, it's fodder for the fear mongers. I'd like to see an uncensored reports of Y2K findings. With truth we all can make intelligent decisions. I just don't know what it is anymore.


-- john hebert (, April 13, 1999.

Hear, hear - well said, Sir John.

That's one reason I respect the "independent" information from the commercial database at EPRI more than many others - particularly the open media and even the government. The companies who have paid "big bucks" to share data in their Y2K database (at first only electric companies, now natural gas, oil pipelines and water distribution systems) and who signed the "hold free" releases required have inherent interests (self-preservation of their original investment) and profit (learning from the others who also paid their way) and a "protected, integrated" bunch of users who are shielded from outsiders or extraneous data.

Tends to make their accumulated data more reliable. articularly if a vender report of "we're compliant" is proved incorrect in one or more tests at one company - the lesson is quickly sent around.

Could the government have done this? Yes. Did it? No. Can it start now? Probably not.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 13, 1999.

i'm confused. has this been resolved, or what? WILL they or WON'T they be a problem come 2000?

-- newbie (ple@sedont.spamme), April 28, 1999.

I just linked in here from Dr. Yourdon's essay; this doesn't seem to jibe with what he said. Can someone explain this?

-- Confused (chippy X, May 14, 1999.

Essay? The Timebomb 2000 book maybe?

It's been a while since that was issued (re-released) which is why the subject came up again.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, May 14, 1999.

still confused

-- still Confused (Chippy2 X @aol .com), June 16, 1999.

Sir Robert, Kevin, Mutha

As Paul Harvey would say: and now, the rest of the story. I posted the Baton Rouge links on a contingency planning listserv that I subscribe to. Here is one of the replies:

"My recommendation - before you cite anything related to Y2K problems, use factual information only, this means go to the source, or the alleged source of the information. In two quick calls, I was able to talk directly to Chief Ed Smith, Baton Rouge Fire Department to check out the story referred to in Rep. Horn's obsolete news release.

Bottom line - the ladder truck did not have any Y2K related problem. I'll send John Hebert the full story of how this unsubstantiated information caused the Baton Rouge fire department a lot of unnecessary grief.

Chief Smith stated that Baton Rouge Fire Department has received hundreds of telephone calls from fire departments in the U.S. and Canada, but noted that the number of calls have dropped off significantly in recent months. However, he understood how "Y2K Myths" have a way of resurrecting themselves, especially when the Internet is involved and inaccurate information postings remain available on government websites."

The additional info I received in the direct email:

"Then how did the story get started?

Answer: By people who did not know what they were talking about, even though they may have had good intentions.

So what really happened?

Answer: During the Y2K assessment phase of the Baton Rouge municipal agencies, early on in 1998, there was a planning meeting where discussions occurred about where there could potentially be embedded systems that could potentially affect the operability of fire department equipment. A Baton Rouge fire department representative stated that the department had recently purchased a new truck which had a ladder that had remote control capability. There was general agreement that this was the kind ot equipment situation that had the potential to be a problem. As any responsible Y2K management team member presented with such a situation, they wanted to know whether or not the remote control operation of the ladder was vulnerable to an embedded chip Y2K problem. The fire department took on the task of determining if it was, in fact a problem. They checked and found no Y2K problem.

Meanwhile, before they had determined that the fire ladder truck was Y2K ready, another city official, unnamed, attended a Y2K conference (thought to be in Florida) and reportedly made an incorrect statement about the fire truck and its ladder control system. In his alleged statement, this official reportedly dropped the "potential" aspect of the earlier discussion about the operation of the remote controlled ladder on the fire truck and this Y2K Myth took on a life of its own, especially after Congressman Horn's news release back on September 9, 1998. Hundreds of concerned telephone calls from fire departments in the U.S. , Canada, etc. came into the Fire Dept. at Baton Rouge." As the author of the note pointed out I failed to check my sources - I foolishly made the mistake of trusting government sources... Just goes to show you, trust no one....

Earlier this spring, I had a very pleasant conversation with Dan - based on that conversation I've concluded that he is indeed in a similar situation (actually worse but that's another story) to myself - He got some embedded chip information from a 'reliable source' and now the source has changed its tune.

That's exactly what happened to me with our electric company - I don't know how to explain these about face routines. Perhaps the disappearing embedded chip syndrome is simply misinformed 'reliable sources' as was in Baton Rouge. (I did not call Baton Rouge myself to confirm the events, but accepted the explanation provided by another professional as reasonable.) Then again, maybe its a deliberate misinformation campaign to do some sort of damage control for unauthorized disclosures....

So I'm still confused, too.

Good Luck jh

-- (, June 16, 1999.

Speakin of trucks


watch out for redlof

-- imme (¿¿¿??, January 21, 2003.

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