Updated – New World Software, Not Dispatch Training Blamed For June 4th Failed Alarm Upgrade

June 14, 2016

Everett, Everett Fire

Editor’s Update 3:30 PM: I just got off the phone with Kurt Mills, Executive Director at SNOPAC911 in Everett. He was at a conference but wanted to call to express his concern with my characterization of the failure of dispatchers to be able tone a second or third alarm during the June 4th fire on Marine View Drive as a training issue. “This was a New World System bug,” said Mills. “This was not dispatch error or a training issue.” Mills told me he remembers explaining the problem of March 28th as a dispatcher training issue as noted in the Everett Fire log shown below. He said while there did appear to be a work around to the June 4th event as outlined in the 3-page memo also shown below, the fact remains it was a New World issue and not the fault of the dispatchers or their training. He said the problem was sent with the highest priority to New World and four days later they received a software fix that he believes has solved the problem. Mills said the memo, which he did not expect the press to see, could have been worded to better reflect the New World failure and not emphasize the wording of “the dispatchers became singularly focused” “and did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot” I advised Director Mills that it is my intent to properly report the issues when it comes to the implementation of the New World software and his clarification was appreciated. – Leland Dart, Publisher. My original story from earlier follows…

alarm upgradeAlarm upgrade, when a fire commander asks for additional help, has become something of an issue for Everett Fire and SNOPAC as they work in a new dispatch software known as New World. This is another in a series of articles we’re doing as we follow the trials and tribulations of implementing this system.

Back on March 28th of this year the Everett Fire Department was called to a commercial fire response at Summit and Everett Avenue. The Battalion Chief asked to upgrade to a second alarm. The Dispatcher told the Chief she was waiting for New World to catch up. A couple of moments later the Chief asked to downgrade the call and the Dispatcher said “That’s good because New World is stuck where you’re at.” Shortly after that she advised a supervisor was able to issue a second alarm. Here’s an audio clip of that exchange.

As part of an error log kept by Everett Fire for tracking dispatch issues this call was addressed as follows…


Click above to enlarge

MyEverettNews.com spoke with SNOPAC Director Kurt Mills on May 17th regarding issues with the New World dispatch system. At that time Mills said the 2nd alarm issue had been addressed and was a training issue. He advised more upgrades and patches were coming and improvements were happening. He also said the system was 95% of the way there but wouldn’t be satisfied until it was 100%.

On June 4th there was a fire at a former recycling center on Marine View Drive. As Everett Fire units made their initial response, mutual aid units from Marysville were cancelled. After about 7 minutes a second alarm was asked for by the Battalion Chief. According to a memo issued after the fact by SNOPAC the second alarm was not processed as three fire dispatchers and a dispatch supervisor tried in vain to get their computer system to dispatch additional units. Additional units were dispatched manually. 22 minutes later the Battalion Chief called for a third alarm. He was initially told that New World software was not allowing the alarm upgrade. He asked for a work around. Shortly thereafter he was told New World was back up and the additional units had been dispatched.

In the days that followed managers at SNOPAC worked to re-create the issue to find a fix. In a three page memo provided by the City of Everett to MyEverettNews.com Operations Supervisor Karl Christian and Operations Coordinator Rich McQuade outlined what they went through to find out why the computer system would not allow the dispatcher to enter an alarm upgrade. You can see that full 3 – page memo here…

Everett Fire CFS 618 – 060416

The summation was the three dispatchers and one supervisor became singularly focused on the issue with the upgrade button, and did not seize the opportunity to troubleshoot anything other than retrying the recommendation several times. Again this comes more than 2 months after an alarm upgrade failure was called a dispatcher training issue.

On June 9th MyEverettNews.com sent an E-mail to SNOPAC Executive Director Kurt Mills asking if the upgrade from May 25th made a difference? Director Mills responded in a return E-mail…

Yes the hotfix corrected some twenty things, and two other subsequent fixes have been provided so absolutely we continue to make material progress.  As you have identified sometimes issues are attributed to NWS when they aren’t really related to NWS – and in fairness some have been issues even before NWS went live.  I’m told Everett has new public safety grade wireless modem they are testing which is showing marketed improvement in coverage/throughput and I’m pleased they are testing so thoroughly – it takes time but we need to spend out limited funds wisely.  We’re also moving toward allowing public safety to have priority access to the commercial wireless which it sounds like will be coming to our county later this year or early next. It’s a process Leland which is getting better and better.  We can do things today we’ve never been able to do before, so it’s worth it to the public, responders and 911 operators to keep moving forward.

Mills did not mention the 3 page E-Mail on June 7th regarding the failure of the system to properly upgrade the alarms as requested by Everett Fire on June 4th.

MyEverettNews.com will continue to follow the issues of dispatching Everett Fire and Everett Police to emergencies within the Everett city limits.

, ,

About My Everett News Staff

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring news and events in Everett, Washington. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live, work, and play in Everett.

View all posts by My Everett News Staff