County Complains to FCC About Verizon’s 9-1-1 Failure

Fairfax County’s 9-1-1 Call Center

Fairfax County has filed a formal report with the Federal Communications Commission about Verizon’s failure to maintain 9-1-1 service during the derecho that hit the Fairfax area June 29. From 7:36 a.m. until 3 p.m. on June 30, 9-1-1 service was completely out; for the next three days, service was sporadic.

Fairfax County’s submission details what happened, makes suggestions for Verizon to improve its service and includes exhibits to document the chain of events.

The report charges that the 9-1-1 outage was caused by the failure of Verizon’s backup power sources and compounded by the company’s “failure to give the county prompt and effective notice” of the outage.

“The ferocity of the derecho does not explain the 9-1-1 outage. Instead, its relevance is as a reminder of the need for resilient and reliable 9-1-1 service,” the county report to the FCC said. “During and after a storm, and in any emergency or disaster, the loss of the public’s ability to contact emergency responders is most profoundly felt.

“Families in darkened homes crushed by fallen trees, motorists unable to get through roadways blocked by downed electric power lines, elderly residents in care facilities without power in temperatures over 90 degrees, and any other citizens in need of emergency services must be able to call 9-1-1 to seek assistance.”

The county’s public safety officials said they are also pursuing the issues through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and other agencies.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.