Berlin Fire Department with Y2K Problem? : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Berlin Fire Department with Y2K Problem? Debora Weber-Wulff Wed, 12 Jan 2000 12:04:39 +0100

There has been heated debate in the Berlin newspapers about the fire department's computer problems over New Year's. It seems that just after midnight the dispatching systems broke, but they broke in an unexpected way: they told the dispatchers that an alarm had been given to a fire station, when in reality the fire station did not receive the alarm, and kept playing cards and wondering why there were no fires this nice New Year's Eve. [This is in itself a very hard to avoid security risk.] At one point an exasperated police car drove to a fire station, which was just around the corner to ask if they needed an engraved invitation or what?!

The systems also logged fire engines as being somewhere in use when they were actually sitting in the fire house, and thus tried to alarm fire engines that were further away from the fire.

There has been lots of finger-pointing. The systems were "Y2K-secure" because they were tested for this 2 weeks ago. [Gosh, I didn't realize that someone had found out how to prove by test that software functions properly! -dww] The chief fire fighter had to be called in at about 1.30 am to figure out what to do, eventually falling back on very old equipment: people, paper and pencil.

The blame has been put on the massive number of calls to the fire department during the night, which had overloaded the system. Maybe I ought to invest in a second fire extinguisher...

Link to story:

-- Carl Jenkins (, January 20, 2000

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