WASHINGTON (WNEW) — Officials are calling a power outage that caused D.C.’s 911 and police radio system to break down Tuesday “a catastrophic communications failure.”

The Office of Unified Communications, which handles all 911 calls as well as police and fire dispatches, was already operating using back up generators for about 13 hours because personnel had noticed “irregular interruptions in the building’s power supply.”

Then, around noon, the generators failed, WNEW Senior Correspondent Mark Segraves reports.

That resulted in long wait times for people calling 911 for emergency help, and D.C. police radios going dead for about five minutes. 311 communications were completely disabled for approximately 16 minutes. Homeland Security and Emergency Management was also affected.

The radios are now restored and the power is now back up at the 911 center.

Officials say there was only a minimal impact to public safety.

The Office of Unified Communications is working with the Department of General Services to find the root cause and address the power concerns that lead to the outage.

WNEW Senior Correspondent Mark Segraves contributed to this report. Follow Mark and WNEW on Twitter.


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