TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: NYC 1975 CO Fire -- Supposed it Happened Today?

Re: NYC 1975 CO Fire -- Supposed it Happened Today?
24 Jul 2006 08:47:48 -0700

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: ... 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.

I can't comment on Hinsdale other than that occured when it was no
longer the Bell System and there was great pressure to cunt costs to
meet competition.

As to Manhattan and other disasters, I'm not sure exactly what the
phone company could've done any differently to prevent the fire or
restoring service any faster short of extremely expensive duplication
of facilities or very expensive safeguards. The Manhattan building
was staffed, they smelled smoke and reported the fire. I don't know
what fueled the fire (PVC cables?) that made it so severe or hard to
knock down.

Thanks for posting that information (see below).

That devastation was lost in the coverage of 9/11. Part of that was
due to the area being extensively evacuated and people not home or at
work to use the phones that were down.

Indeed, it seems this destruction was worse than Feb 1975 -- there were
200,000 lines out, nearly twice as many as before. Further, there
were substantial private line data circuits out.

I couldn't tell exactly the extent of damage to the building or the
switchgear, but it seemed like a mess.

Working in that area, as the Verizon crews did, was extremely
difficult with nasty air and other horrors. Some of my co-workers
were detailed to the WTC area for emergency assistance and stayed for
a few days (sleeping in the van); I hope they didn't pick up anything
for the bad air.

Bob Goudreau wrote:

> I think the most prominent recent comparable telecom disaster in the
> US also occurred in Manhattan, but is perhaps overlooked because it
> was just a small part of a much larger disaster. I'm referring to the
> Verizon facilities damaged during the September 11, 2001 terrorist
> attacks. See:
> and
> and
> for some reflections on how Verizon recovered from the loss of a
> switching office that served hundreds of thousands of voice lines and
> millions of data circuits.

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