Fireground commander calls for 2nd & 3rd alarms but dispatchers couldn’t send help

Video above by David Johnson

More than 10 minutes after a second alarm was requested for a large recycling center fire in Everett, Washington on June 4, EMS Chief Tim Key asked dispatchers about the status of the second alarm units. He quickly learned from a dispatcher that those units had not been sent because of a dispatch software malfunction.

Rikki King of describes in detail the problems with the New World Systems software and the delays caused as dispatchers tried work-arounds to get help to a fireground where there were severe water supply issues.

SNOPAC, the Snohomish County 911 center, began using the software in October and it has had serious problems ever since. According to reporter King, things have been so bad that a battalion chief said on the radio in February, “This New World system is going to get someone killed.” The chief was reprimanded for his remark.

It’s painfully obvious that dispatch software that can’t send help when requested is useless and dangerous. There’s no one to reprimand me so I will say what the battalion chief and the rest of the department apparently can’t say without getting in trouble, “Someone’s going to get killed.”

The website has also been looking at the dispatch problems and has details and audio of another failure to launch a second alarm on March 28. also pointed out what some might see as interesting foreshadowing of the problems to come in its May 12 article:

The system design began in 2009 and was to be rolled out in 2012 but was delayed. Known as New World the deployment was again delayed in the spring of 2015.

The system finally went live in the fall of 2015.

Here’s an excerpt, from Rikki King’s article describing more about the June 4 fire (I suggest reading the entire article):

Key asked dispatchers to find another way to get more rigs rolling. Those crews can be heard being requested on the radio a short time later.

About 23 minutes into the fire, the walls of the warehouse started to collapse. Firefighters radioed there had been an explosion, apparently involving propane tanks. Everyone on scene was ordered to stay clear of the collapse zone.

Video above by Maxx Powell

About 27 minutes into the incident, firefighters asked for a third alarm.

The dispatcher told them: “Just be advised I’m having issues. The software’s not recommending any more units when I increase the alarms.”

The battalion chief, who was in charge of the scene, replied, “Received. Reporting New World software not able to produce third alarm. If there’s a manual way you can do that, it would be much appreciated.

”The radio recording also makes clear that, by that point, the crews were struggling to get enough water flowing out of area hydrants. They asked the battalion chief to assign someone to coordinate water access and supply.

The battalion chief replied: “I’m out of people and New World’s unable to give us more. When I get more people, I will get water flowing.”

Read entire article

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