Telecommunications company Verizon detailed a series of equipment failures that shutdown regional 911 emergency call centers following the June 29 storm.
Two backup generators failed to start, causing the initial service outage, and a combination of communication issues and other system failures compounded the problem, according to the report. The report outlines the steps Verizon is taking to prevent future outages.
The 911 systems in Fairfax and Prince William counties and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park did not receive calls for several hours during the weekend of June 30 and, once they did get calls again, the system was not working as robustly as normal. For example, calls were not always accompanied by location information from the callers.
“Verizon understands the fear and frustration of people who were unable to reach 911 after the June 29 devastating storm that hit the region,” said company spokesman Harry Mitchell. “We’re disappointed with our performance, and our comprehensive investigation has helped us understand what happened, why it happened, and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again.”
Verizon has both a battery backup system and two generators at the two facilities in question, in Fairfax and Arlington. One generator at each of the locations failed to start automatically, as designed. The generators have since been repaired, according to the report.
The outage at the Arlington facility affected Verizon employees’ ability to monitor its network in the region, which made it harder for them to detect problems and to restore service.
In addition to investigating ways to improve the redundancy of its system, Verizon’s report indicates the company will work with local officials to begin conducting semi-annual drills to model potential and actual 911 outages so its employees are better prepared to address future problems.