The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 13, 2013

Leak destroys 911 equipment

OTTUMWA — One frozen pipe led to the total destruction of the dispatch center’s 911 equipment over the weekend, causing thousands of dollars in damage and calls to be re-routed.

Interim Ottumwa Police Chief Tom McAndrew said dispatchers lost their ability to use the telephone system Sunday night, though he said the software showed that no 911 calls were missed.

“We discovered something leaking through the roof and one of the tiles in the ceiling fell and we lost our phones,” McAndrew said.

A representative from the telecommunications company came down to examine the damage on Monday and found a lot of water in the system.

The equipment puts off a lot of heat, which is why an air conditioning unit runs year-round to keep everything cool. But a pipe froze due to low freon pressure in the system, causing it to develop ice, which ran down a pipe and dripped over the equipment, shorting the system.

“Why the A/C system is right above the electronics room, that’s something to do with the engineering of the building,” McAndrew said. “I question that also, as to why they put a unit like that right above a quarter million dollars worth of equipment. But we didn’t design the building, so I can’t comment on why the system is up there.”

The system that was destroyed cost at least $140,000. And if the unit had leaked just 1 foot over, the department’s $180,000 worth of brand new radio equipment would have also been destroyed.

“The whole system is shot, and there’s no way of fixing it,” McAndrew said. “So we’re scrambling right now to get quotes from different vendors who offer that type of equipment.”

The entire 12-year-old system will need to be replaced, and McAndrew said the city’s E-911 board and the law center’s insurance will determine whether the cost to replace the system will be covered.

“It is a replacement system, but we may want a little better system than what we’re replacing,” McAndrew said of the outdated system.

The re-routing of calls should not cause any significant delays in response time, he said.

The department’s contingency plan immediately went into effect, and calls have been re-routed to Mahaska County.

The first agency calls are transferred to in case of an emergency is Mahaska County, next is Jefferson County and third is Davis County.

“If you dial 911 in Ottumwa from a land line, it will go to Mahaska County, who will then transfer the call to our dispatcher,” McAndrew said. “Now, if you’re calling 911 from a cell phone, you have to talk to the dispatcher in Mahaska County, who will then relay the information to us. They can’t transfer calls from a cell phone. It has to do with the software.”

While all calls from Ottumwa will go to Mahaska County, all calls from Wapello County outside of Ottumwa city limits will go to Davis County.

“The reason we did that is there was a chance of snow, and we didn’t want to overload Mahaska County,” McAndrew said. “Mahaska County says it’s handling it — no problem right now. We have offered to send up a dispatcher from our agency to help, but as of right now they don’t need help.”

The plan now is to have Winger Contracting Company construct a specialized, over-sized drip pan with an alarm on it “in case this happens again,” McAndrew said. On top of that, the department is considering installing sheet metal over some of the equipment in case of another leak.

“The building does have a flat roof, and with all the metal in the building, it could leak 20 feet away through the roof, get on a beam and run all the way over to a different area and leak on equipment,” he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition