The outages in the Washington area during the past two years were caused by a variety of problems and could not be traced to a single factor, The Post’s review found. The problems included struggles to maintain equipment, technical glitches and automatic alarms going unheeded.
During the derecho, Verizon acknowledged, backup generators did not start and repair workers were slow to find the problems. The failures cut service for 911 callers and also took down Verizon’s monitoring system, leaving it blind to the crisis until local emergency workers began notifying the company that service had gone out.
Report: Impact of the June 2012 Derecho on Communications Networks and Services
Some lawmakers said last month that The Post’s findings demonstrated the need for stronger federal oversight of emergency systems nationwide, perhaps including new regulations from the FCC.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) singled out Verizon Communications for criticism.
“They have had their opportunity to do this voluntarily, and they have shirked that opportunity at every turn,” he said of Verizon in December. “To protect the public, we very clearly need the FCC.
“This is a life-and-death situation. If someone has a heart attack, 911 has got to work,” he said.
Verizon spokesman Harry J. Mitchell said at the time that the company had made many improvements and plans more. Verizon was working closely with the FCC and state regulators to examine the cause of past outages and determine what can be done to prevent future ones, he said.
“Verizon understands the critical function of 911 service and the critical role we play in successfully delivering calls to 911 from people in distress,” Mitchell said at the time. “We take this role seriously, and when an issue arises, we act quickly to investigate, correct and apply any lessons learned across our system.”
In its report, the FCC says that “above and beyond the destruction” caused by the June storm, full 911 service to communities serving 3.6 million people in affected states was disrupted “in large part because of avoidable planning and system failures.”