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Dispatch center for fires falters
COUNTY: Technical problem knocks out Fire Authority's power, phones and computers for more than an hour.
January 10, 2000
By RONALD CAMPBELL The Orange County Register
ORANGE A technical glitch Sunday briefly shut down the computerized fire-dispatch system for most of Orange County.
The Orange County Fire Authority's power, telephones and computers all failed at 11:30 a.m., Capt. Paul Hunter said. The dispatch center's backup power also failed. Dispatchers handled routine and emergency calls manually until the system was restored at 12:40 p.m.
Hunter said utility and computer technicians were trying to figure out what went wrong. The dispatch center had never before lost its power, phones and computers simultaneously. He said he did not think the Year 2000 computer bug was to blame.
The rest of the county's emergency-dispatch system was fine, including sheriff's services.
The system is designed to dispatch firefighters and emergency medical technicians within "milliseconds" of a call, Hunter said. The oldest components in the system are less than 5 years old, he said.
During the outage, the four dispatchers and their supervisor used an emergency procedure intended for earthquake scenarios. They strung new phone lines to get around the failed phone network. They used battery-powered laptop computers with "fire-finder" software to look up callers' addresses and determine which of the Fire Authority's eight battalions should respond. Each battalion distributed calls among six or seven stations.
"To our knowledge, there was no interruption in delivery of emergency services," Hunter said. "We were able to accept all 911 calls."
-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), January 10, 2000
"Hunter said utility and computer technicians were trying to figure out what went wrong. The dispatch center had never before lost its power, phones and computers simultaneously. He said he did not think the Year 2000 computer bug was to blame."
Ofcourse not Y2K related. We'll just toss this one in the "FRED" bin.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 10, 2000.