For only the second time since 2006, a “hard failure” of equipment Wednesday night knocked the Boone County Dispatch Center off the air.
The problem occurred while units from Zionsville and other fire departments were fighting a house fire at 7880 Circle Drive, in Zionsville.
The issue was with an AT&T T3 line connecting Lebanon and Carmel, Boone County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mike Nielsen said. That line is part of a system that connects Boone County Dispatch with the 800 MHz public safety radio communications system at the Indiana Government Center in Indianapolis. That in turn connects dispatchers with a statewide network of “simulcast sites,” which boost 800 MHz radio signals. The system is part of the Project Hoosier SAFE-T initiative, which will eventually allow every police, fire, EMS and other public safety organization in the state to communicate with each other.
There are simulcast towers in Lebanon, Jamestown, Thorntown and Zionsville.
“When I key up a radio, or dispatch keys up a radio, it fires every one of those tower sites, so we get a maximum amount of coverage,” Nielsen said.
“I can lose the Jamestown site, and still function,” Nielsen said. “I can lose one or two other sites and still function.”
But the loss of the T3 line to the government center cut off access to the state system. At Carmel, the T3 line becomes two T1 lines running to the government center.
There are backup radio consoles, and hand-held portables in the Boone County Dispatch Center at the Boone County Jail, but another issue kept the backup system from functioning.