CGC #1088

by CGC on September 13, 2011



                      THE CGC COMMUNICATOR

                            CGC #1088

                  Tuesday,  September 13, 2011


                Robert F. Gonsett, W6VR,  Editor

    Copyright 2011, Communications General® Corporation (CGC)



  The citizens of San Diego County experienced a massive electrical power 
outage on Thursday, September 8, 2011, at 3:38 PM.  Part of the blackout 
penetrated into southern Orange County and down into Mexico.  Estimates 
the total number of people left in the dark at between 3 and 7 million.

  The outage was reportedly triggered by an Arizona Public Service utility 
employee who "performed a procedure" on the North Gila-Hassayampa 
transmission line near Yuma, Ariz.

  The blackout disabled hundreds of AT&T cell phone towers in San Diego 
County.  Close to our office in Fallbrook, Time Warner Cable TV went dark 
soon after the power failed and, for many subscribers, that problem 
caused their cable-fed wireline telephones to fail as well.

  On the other hand, Clear Channel Communications -- and
KOGO(AM) in particular -- received high marks from the public for their 
wall-to-wall coverage of the massive blackout.

  Power was restored at CGC's offices at 2:04 AM on Sept. 9.



  A portion of the "north loop" of San Diego County's Regional Communications 
System (RCS) experienced a major failure when the county-wide power outage 
hit on September 8, 2011.  This was the second major outage for the redundant 
800 MHz RCS that was designed to carry public safety communications without 
the need for a backup system.

  Various sources at North County Fire Protection District indicate that 
their communications were severely disrupted by the power outage.  Some 
units were able to hear and not talk to dispatch while the opposite 
happened to some other units.
Others indicated that the system went into formal failure mode.
One official put it bluntly: "The system crashed, again."

  Fortunately, a ham radio operator who foresaw the folly of putting all 
public safety communications eggs in one 800 MHz basket had assembled a 
plain-Jane public safety VHF repeater system on a shoestring budget over 
the years.  Hams are good at doing that.  The system was pressed into 
action on September 8 and carried a heavy dispatch load.

  Many cities and communities in North San Diego County had abandoned and 
dismantled their 150 and 450 MHz communications systems when they switched 
over to the 800 MHz RCS trunker years ago.  Fortunately, North County Fire 
(aka Fallbrook Fire) and
(reportedly) Oceanside Fire kept their VHF frequencies alive
-- and that saved the day on September 8.

  San Diego County's lessons serve as valuable reminders for other communities: 
Murphy lives.  There is nothing like having an independent backup radio system 
in place  -- one that is tested regularly and ready to fill any communications 
Hopefully North County's VHF repeater system will be rebuilt with first class 
equipment and expanded into other areas.
It has proven its worth.

  As for the RCS system, people will be asking lots of questions including why 
one power generator overheated and shut down, and why another generator was 
never installed in the first place (answer: that particular RCS relay station 
was installed at an electrical power plant that had plenty of operating 
generators -- until the unthinkable happened).

  Fortunately, the San Diego County RCS has a number of well qualified engineers 
and technicians who will be working hard on diagnostics, repairs and long-term 



  Radio, TV and Cable TV stations in San Diego County that participate in EAS 
should have whoever at their facility that has oversight of EAS subscribe to 
the San Diego EAS listserver.
Information about special tests, the first-ever national test and changes to 
EAS will be sent via the list.

  Appropriate parties can request being added to the list via the following link:

  Oscar Medina, Chairman
  San Diego LECC EAS

                            OFF TOPIC


  September 11, 2001 changed lives forever.  This gripping video is one of 
the best we've seen and received a large number of favorable comments after 
being circulated on a private e-mail distribution list.




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_________________________    End   _______________________________ 

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