Faulty rental equipment blamed for emergency dispatch system failure

The County of Sonoma's key emergency backup power source, which failed during a blackout Sunday night and caused the emergency 911 dispatch system to crash, was a temporary unit being used until a replacement system arrives later this spring.

"It was a rental," said John Hartwig, director of the county's department of information systems. "Unfortunately this temporary solution encountered a . . . failure."

Delivery of a new, $150,000 emergency power supply system is expected in about a month.

County tech crews have replaced the broken component in the $10,000-per-month rental. Tuesday the system was running properly but crews were monitoring it, Hartwig said.

The county will look into whether a refund might be due because of the equipment failure, he said.

"It's unacceptable when we lose critical systems," Hartwig said. "This one was a fluke failure."

The fluke started in Santa Rosa just before 8 p.m. Sunday when a wild turkey flew into a power line near College Avenue and Carrillo Street, sparking a blackout.

About 2,000 customers lost electricity, mostly along the Highway 101 corridor from College Avenue to Steele Lane and the county administration center.

The center houses the Computer Aided Dispatch system, which connects most of the county's police and fire agencies.

The uninterrupted power supply system is supposed to carry the load once power fails. That gives the generators time to start up and keep the county services running.

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