A faulty circuit breaker triggered an outage in Fort Worth’s 911 system Monday night, and city officials said they’re building more "failsafes" into the system.
After Fort Worth’s system went down at 6:15 p.m. Monday, people working the system manually switched it to Arlington’s dispatch center at 6:39 p.m., and Fort Worth’s system was back up and fully running at 7:20 p.m., Fort Worth Fire Chief Rudy Jackson said.
Tarrant County 911 told the city the Fort Worth system missed 224 calls, likely between when Fort Worth’s system went down and Arlington’s picked up, Jackson said. Arlington took 27 calls and relayed them to Fort Worth, which dispatched emergency personnel by radio, he said.
Fort Worth was examining the call log Tuesday to determine their nature, Jackson said late afternoon.
"I haven’t gotten any specific information on them yet," he said.
Normal call volume for Fort Worth’s center is 150 calls for the time period, Jackson said.
"We had several test calls going back and forth, trying to figure out what was going on," which increased the volume of missed calls, Jackson said.
The problem followed a routine test of the 911 system, city officials said.
After the test, a circuit breaker popped, causing the 911 system to lose hardline power, said Doug Wiersig, the city’s transportation and public works director.
The system reverted to battery backup. Employees mistakenly believed they had fixed the problem, but the system continued to operate on battery power, unnoticed, Wiersig said.
The battery backup system began sending warning messages, but the modem wasn’t working, so the messages didn’t transmit, Wiersig said. The 911 system went down when the battery power ran down, and control room personnel noticed the problem at that point, Wiersig said.
At that point, workers moved to transfer the system to Arlington’s 911 center but weren’t able to without power. Working with the city’s telecom provider, workers manually threw a switch that transferred Fort Worth’s system to Arlington’s, Wiersig said.
Fort Worth is replacing the bad breaker and modem and putting in more battery backups and alarms, Wiersig said.
- Scott Nishimura, Star-Telegram Fort Worth City Hall reporter