Our Official Comments to the FCC about 9-1-1 Outage

Posted 8:44 a.m.

9-1-1 call center floor

Our 9-1-1 center received more than 874,000 calls in 2011.

The June 29 derecho storm hit our community hard. One major issue was the loss of 9-1-1 service. 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.

As a result of this critical outage, Fairfax County submitted official Comments to the Federal Communications Commission detailing what happened, suggestions for Verizon to improve its service and exhibits to show supporting documentation/actions.

You may read our official Comments on the FCC website (PDF).

We are pursuing this life safety issue from many angles including this report to the FCC and regional work through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

As our report declares:

“In short, 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. 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.”

For more details about our community’s critical 9-1-1 emergency service, view our Department of Public Safety Communications 2011 annual report (PDF) for call volume, trends and other data.

About Fairfax County Emergency Information

Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.

3 responses to “Our Official Comments to the FCC about 9-1-1 Outage”

  1. Brian Cheung says :

    Does Fairfax County provide any way for citizens to reach emergency services through citizen band (CB) or HAM radio?

    • Erin Stevens says :

      I am 73 years old, military widow, live alone in a house. No relatives in Virginia. I have many health issues, especially a heart condition. I had no power for several days to include: no electricity, no land line telephone, no cell phone service, and no water (Falls Church source of water). I heard on a battery radio to boil the water, but how can that be done when no electrical power??? Also all gas power was done because gas appliance must have an electrial starter (Fairfax Coundty code). Most of my neighbors wernt to stay in motels and hotels which I cannot afford. The one local motel I could afford was full, no vacancies. I was not able to get any help from the utilit

  2. Anonymous says :

    At what point does criminal neglect occur. It is uncomprehenisible that the telephone service fail in such a manner as to be useless.( With the exception of a nuclear blast.) The telephone companies systems need to be robust enough to withstand storm damage. How will the responsibility for this outrageous failure be adjucated. This isn’t a “ho-hum” event. Just how cheap is the equipment in use? There is an urgency to be sure but no one seems to notice. BTW matches can be used to light a stovetop burner.