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Emergency dispatch centers in Southwest Colorado drop complaint over outages

Agencies complained over summer outages
The Durango-La Plata Emergency Communications Center handles emergency dispatches for the Durango Fire Protection District, Durango Police Department, Bayfield Police Department, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, and Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District. The agency was part of a recently dropped complaint against telecommunications companies over 911 service outages.

Emergency communications centers across Southwest Colorado dropped a complaint last week against telecommunications companies over 911 service outages.

The centers have agreed to work with companies, including CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association and other telephone providers, to improve communication and infrastructure redundancy.

“All the parties are coming to the table to work toward resolving any issues,” said Phil Campbell, director of the Durango-La Plata Emergency Communications Center.

He expects discussions and cooperation will be more productive than the complaint process.

The 911 centers filed a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in August after outages that affected 12 mostly Western Slope agencies, including Cortez Dispatch and the Durango-La Plata Emergency Communications Center.

The complaint listed at least eight days in June and July when at least one emergency communication center experienced an outage.

None of the emergency communication centers was immediately notified of outages, and in some instances neighboring emergency communications notified one another, according to the complaint.

Filing the complaint helped get the attention of telecommunication companies, and communication from CenturyLink about potential service impacts has already improved, Campbell said.

Building a more redundant telecommunications system will take time, but CenturyLink has agreed to meet with Campbell and other communication centers it serves to talk about network diversity issues, Campbell said. The dispatch centers have agreed not to share proprietary information about the company’s network, Campbell said.

Before the outages, Campbell and Carl Nevitt, Archuleta County consolidated emergency communication director, believed the system had built-in redundancy.

The telecommunications companies also will work with the statewide 911 Task Force on redundancy across Colorado.

A timeline for building more redundancy has not been set, he said. “We have to identify the challenges within each area before we can set an attainable timeline,” he said.

The 911 centers could refile their complaint if they choose because they voluntarily withdrew it, according to state documents.

CenturyLink did not answer emailed questions on Wednesday.


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