Dallas fire stations emergency alert system is failing

hiegtx

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Dallas fire stations emergency alert system is failing, causing firefighters to miss calls
The frequency of issues have increased in the last year and a half, and officials have assigned a dispatcher to call fire stations.

 

R8000

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Another media paywall. Can't see the article.
 

DustyH777

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The DFR/DPD system is a mess, I'm 46 and I have had a scanner since I was a kid and it sounds like the same system.
My fantasy system would be that they go to a P25 system.....some days DFR comes in clear and other days it very poor signal and I don't live that far from the north transmitter on Frankford RD.
 

hiegtx

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The DFR/DPD system is a mess, I'm 46 and I have had a scanner since I was a kid and it sounds like the same system.
My fantasy system would be that they go to a P25 system.....some days DFR comes in clear and other days it very poor signal and I don't live that far from the north transmitter on Frankford RD.
Your 'fantasy' system is already under construction. Dallas (city) and Dallas County are constructing a P25 Phase II system to handle all communications needs. I don't have a confirmed time table for when it will go into use, but I think it will be within the next year. What may be the new simulcast site for the system recently came into operation & is listed as 'Dallas Simulcast' on FWRRS.
 

Jay911

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Something doesn't add up here. The claim in the article is that the closest station is not consistently being alerted, and Locution is being identified as the culprit/scapegoat. Now, admittedly, there are as many different configurations for such systems as there are places they're installed in, but based on my knowledge of Locution, it generally ties into your CAD system, and simply delivers the voice (and/or tones) and audio that CAD tells it to. There's functionality to direct that alerting to whichever station a unit is in, and potentially different parts of a station depending on the setup; but again, if it's configured properly, my impression is it should work pretty effectively. Hearing that a station hasn't been alerted and crews are driving past (the "garage" :rolleyes:) to see them still there, undispatched, shouldn't be blamed on Locution, based on my experience. If the CAD knew the station/crew was available and didn't notify Locution, that's on the interface between the two. If the CAD system didn't know the station/crew was available, that's on the CAD system. If both of the software packages know the station should be alerted, tried to do so, and failed, then that's on whatever pathways (IP-based, radio-based, etc) are laid between the Locution system and the stations.
 

hiegtx

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Something doesn't add up here. The claim in the article is that the closest station is not consistently being alerted, and Locution is being identified as the culprit/scapegoat. Now, admittedly, there are as many different configurations for such systems as there are places they're installed in, but based on my knowledge of Locution, it generally ties into your CAD system, and simply delivers the voice (and/or tones) and audio that CAD tells it to. There's functionality to direct that alerting to whichever station a unit is in, and potentially different parts of a station depending on the setup; but again, if it's configured properly, my impression is it should work pretty effectively. Hearing that a station hasn't been alerted and crews are driving past (the "garage" :rolleyes:) to see them still there, undispatched, shouldn't be blamed on Locution, based on my experience. If the CAD knew the station/crew was available and didn't notify Locution, that's on the interface between the two. If the CAD system didn't know the station/crew was available, that's on the CAD system. If both of the software packages know the station should be alerted, tried to do so, and failed, then that's on whatever pathways (IP-based, radio-based, etc) are laid between the Locution system and the stations.
I think your last point is the crux of the matter.

I hear the locution "voice" transmission, naming units assigned to an incident during the initial dispatch. But increasingly, some units (engine or truck companies, rescues (that's what DFR calls their ambulances). or other equipment) do not verbally confirm they are enroute, and are not hitting the 'enroute' key on their MDT. If there are two or more units from a specific station, and only one 'checks enroute', dispatch may ask if (the other equipment) is responding with them. If the missing unit was the only apparatus assigned from a specific station, then apparently they are calling via landline to advise that response is needed. Whether connected or not, I'm hearing more instances where 'DIspatch Debbie' (the Locution voice) repeats a given incident dispatch one or more additional times.

Whether this is connected to the upcoming switch to a new Phase II system, I would not know. I suppose it's possible that the station dispatch process may have different paths in the eventual new system, and they are simply trying to use bandaids on the old method until changeover.
 

dmh77yy

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I think your last point is the crux of the matter.

I hear the locution "voice" transmission, naming units assigned to an incident during the initial dispatch. But increasingly, some units (engine or truck companies, rescues (that's what DFR calls their ambulances). or other equipment) do not verbally confirm they are enroute, and are not hitting the 'enroute' key on their MDT. If there are two or more units from a specific station, and only one 'checks enroute', dispatch may ask if (the other equipment) is responding with them. If the missing unit was the only apparatus assigned from a specific station, then apparently they are calling via landline to advise that response is needed. Whether connected or not, I'm hearing more instances where 'DIspatch Debbie' (the Locution voice) repeats a given incident dispatch one or more additional times.

Whether this is connected to the upcoming switch to a new Phase II system, I would not know. I suppose it's possible that the station dispatch process may have different paths in the eventual new system, and they are simply trying to use bandaids on the old method until changeover.
I listen to DFR all the time and its very common to hear "our MDT is not working" or "our MDT is red screened/locked up" ALL THE TIME. I also hear the units in route talking about being "double bumped" where the system sends two units to the same call when it should have only sent 1. Very common issues I hear almost hourly when its busy...which is often
.
During large scale events like big fires, multiple wrecks on 635, tornados, flooding, etc its a total mess and so many units unable to get on the air.
The worst thing I ever heard was an engine screaming "code blue" over and over which is a code only used if they need police to respond for fire personnel being attacked with a a weapon. The dispatcher kept sending police to the wrong location and eventually the engine got on the PD channel and had to give them directions. They actually locked a guy with a knife inside their engine and used poles to keep him from stabbing anyone. The dispatcher was going off the CAD location which gave an address mile away (this was likely some human error too).
 

hiegtx

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I listen to DFR all the time and its very common to hear "our MDT is not working" or "our MDT is red screened/locked up" ALL THE TIME. I also hear the units in route talking about being "double bumped" where the system sends two units to the same call when it should have only sent 1. Very common issues I hear almost hourly when its busy...which is often
.
During large scale events like big fires, multiple wrecks on 635, tornados, flooding, etc its a total mess and so many units unable to get on the air.
The worst thing I ever heard was an engine screaming "code blue" over and over which is a code only used if they need police to respond for fire personnel being attacked with a a weapon. The dispatcher kept sending police to the wrong location and eventually the engine got on the PD channel and had to give them directions. They actually locked a guy with a knife inside their engine and used poles to keep him from stabbing anyone. The dispatcher was going off the CAD location which gave an address mile away (this was likely some human error too).
I've been listening to DFR for over 50 years, and agree with you that things currently are a huge mess. I think that some of the prolific "double bumps" occur due to failures in the CAD system. But what I also see happening is the very large number of units 'speaking up' on the air to get '660' (the call used by dispatch) to assign them to calls in their first alarm/first up area. More times than not, the CAD is not showing the correct location for units that are clear. The wrong location errors certainly contributed to the 'Code Blue' incident you sited.

We're also hearing a large number of units, when pressed to 'push their enroute key' (or clear key), report that their MDT had a 'red bar', apparently not connecting to the system. When that occurs, the CAD does not indicate their correct location, nor their current status. I'm not sure if the current issues are connected, but if you recall several years ago, the city bought a number of new MDTs, and also (I think) dispatch consoles. But instead of spending the money to purchase a license for the software that tied all those together to work smoothly, the city elected to have their own IT personnel devise procedures so that old dispatch software would work with the new equipment. That was a huge mess at the time. I never saw confirmation in local media as to whether they finally managed to use enough baling wire & bubble gum to kludge the two things together, or if the compliant software was finally acquired.
 

BenScan

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Here's a CBS 11 News Story on the topic. Unfortunately, it's not much more in depth. However there is a memo of interest. These are pretty complicated systems, and a 2 minute video or few paragraphs aren't likely to convey everything relevant to a particular or system failure.
 

hiegtx

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Two more, related, articles in today's Dallas Morning News.

and

In those articles, there are comments that Dallas IT staff personnel attempted to make some of the efforts toward correction, but were unsuccessful.

Those of us, including myself, that live in Dallas don't have exactly a 'warm & fuzzy feeling' about the IT staff being involved. There's a little matter of multiple terabytes of information, including police department files, being deleted by a former IT department tech who was supposed to been moving it from on-line (cloud) storage to a physical storage device owned by the city. While some of the deleted files were recovered, there have been at least three occasions when deletions occurred, some which did not surface until new of the most recent incident was disclosed.
 
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