> In Feb 1975 there was a very bad fire in a big Central Office building
> in New York City. Twelve local exchanges and numerous tandem switches
> were knocked out.
> The Bell System mobilized and worked around the clock to get service
> restored. Some burnt panel switchgear was removed and replaced with
> new ESS switches airlifted in. Other gear was cleaned one contact at
> a time with Q-Tips. Some calls were rerouted to other offices.
> Service was restored quickly and known as the "Miracle on Second
> I wonder: Suppose a fire like that happened today: Would it take
> longer or shorter to restore service in today's world?
> On the plus side, I think ESS would make things a lot simpler. No
> contact cleaning, just replace the "boxes" with new ones. Some
> traffic could be rerouted as was done before by ESS reprogramming.
> Hopefully CO buildings today have non destructive (ie Halon) fire
> supression systems.
> But there are some negatives:
> Without the big Bell System in existence, could new "boxes" be found
> quickly and deployed? Western Electric had them ready (for another
> location). Do today's switch makers carry such inventory being
> they're very expensive?
> Secondly, New York Telephone brought in craftsmen from other
> companies. Could that happen today with staff size so much lower and
> the company fractured?
> Third, some work involved resplicing cables in the cable vault. Small
> space limited the number of people who could work at one time, despite
> laying plank catwalks to "double up". I think in a fire such splicing
> would still need to be done and take just as long, possibly longer if
> skilled crews weren't available (see above).
> Comments? (Public replies, please)
> P.S. A read of the New York Times of that incident disclosed the
> tenor of troubled NYC at that time. Merchants and residents without
> phones were more worried about security -- being able to call police
> -- than they were about lost business; that theme was repeated many
> times in interviews. Many businesses and people had burglar alarms
> that were now inoperative without a phone line.
> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: February 27, 1975 was the date. And it
> was a very bad fire, with service out for a long time afterward. There
> have been other very severe fires in their history, in the summer of
> 1945 in the Chicago area, in one of the suburbs was one of the
> first. This Digest was not around at the time, nor at the time of the
> 1960's fire in Richmond, Indiana. However, Richmond, IN and New York
> City in 1975 are both reported in detail in our archives in the
> section on history. Then on Mother's Day, in May, 1988 was the major
> fire in Hinsdale, IL, which like New York City, took place on 'only'
> one building but affected a _large_ number of phones and exchanges and
> services in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois and Indiana. So
> telco tends to 'play the averages' on things like this, with fires or
> other disasters (New Orleans and Katrina for example) occuring about
> once every fifteen or twenty years. Although it is questionable if
> telco could have done very much to protect their property and services
> in the Katrina disaster, they most certainly could have mitigated
> their losses and the disruption in service in Manhattan in 1975 and
> again in Hinsdale in 1988.
> But in the case of Hinsdale at least, telco said at the time and still
> insists even today that it is not 'cost effective' for them to take
> steps in advance to mitigate their losses when these things
> happen. So, they do nothing about it, and deal with it when it
> happens. So, the difference between February, 1975 and February, 1965
> was ten years; May, 1988 was another thirteen years. Add twelve years
> for the cable fire in St. Louis in January, 1990, and about fifteen
> years for New Orleans and Katrina; although both New Orleans and St.
> Louis were not really anything telco could do 'much about'. So Lisa,
> it is not a question of 'if it happens again' so much as it is a
> question of 'when it happens again' as it will, I am sure, given the
> facts of life these days, with 'terrorists' all around us and your
> heroine, Ma Bell telling us she will deal with it if it happens, but
> it is not 'cost-effective' to worry about it before that time. She
> still says 'if'; most of us say 'when'. Don't worry, when it does and
> after it has been dealt with, Ma Bell will put out another very self-
> congratulatory book like they did in the summer of 1975 with a cover
> picture of a plume of thick, black smoke and a Brave, Couragous
> Fireman and tell us how They Knew What Was Best in getting service
> restored a month or two later. What they will not tell you until they
> get sued with their backs up against the wall will be as it was in
> Hinsdale: the first alarms went off in _Springfield, IL_ (about two
> hundred miles south of Chicago and were ignored by the on-duty staff
> for about an hour until _they_ decided to make inquiry from someone
> in the Chicago area. PAT]
Most of the companies have switches located in trailers that can be
moved to a site and spliced into the office cables. Also many of the
offices have a very good fire suppression systems that would stop a fire
very fast. I was involved in the 1971 Sylmar, Calif office, in fact I
was working that night in Sunland and we really felt it. Trailers were
brought in with switch boards and a construction center was set up in
Pacoma and the step equipment was cabled and moved to the Sylmar CO.
That was in the step days, things are much smaller today.
The only good spammer is a dead one!! Have you hunted one down today?
(c) 2006 I Kill Spammers, inc, A Rot in Hell. Co.