Power failure linked to DC 911 outage

WASHINGTON – D.C. officials are investigating what caused a power failure at around 11:30 p.m. Saturday that led to a 911 service outage, which lasted more than an hour overnight.

“We never lost power to the facility, so it was internal to the facility, not power that was being supplied by Pepco,” D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Chris Geldart said at a morning news conference Sunday.

The outage was directly linked to an equipment failure.

“As the power comes into the facility, it goes into a couple of different boxes that route the power to our systems,” Geldart explained. “Those boxes all went down at the same time.”

They are now looking into why that failure happened.

Normally, when there is an issue with the primary 911 call center, operators can easily transfer calls to the backup center and continue taking calls with minimal impact to those seeking assistance.

“We realized the issue that we had in the equipment failure was affecting our ability to transfer the calls to our backup center,” Geldart added.

That means anyone who called 911 was not able to speak with a dispatcher. Officials then put out an alternate number for the public to use to get the assistance they needed.

The possibility that the outage was due to nefarious acts such as hacking has been ruled out.

The outage’s impact isn’t immediately clear.

“Right now, we don’t have an accurate count on the number of calls we have missed,” Karima Holmes, Office of Unified Communications director, said.

Holmes added that this outage is not related to other 911 problems seen in other parts of the region, such as the outage that occurred in Montgomery County a few weeks ago.

The city’s 911 service is currently operational, but officials are keeping both the primary and secondary call centers staffed to make sure there aren’t any subsequent issues.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up