By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
911 Director Michael Simmons informed the Tucker County Commission on that his department was receiving a first of its kind in the state early warning system to monitor the power and temperature of the 911 Center’s server room. The measure was a response to recent issues the center has encountered.
Simmons informed the Commissioners of equipment issues his department has been contending with recently. “We had a couple, I call them issues of interest that have happened in the past couple of days,” Simmons said. “The AC unit that feeds our server room failed and that also caused damage to the head in the server room which is the air unit on the wall in there. We have about a quarter of a million dollars of county equipment in that room and the recommended temperature is 65 to 67.”
Simmons said his department was using a portable floor unit in the interim. “We had commandeered a portable air conditioning unit on wheels, a floor model,” Simmons said. “So the door’s propped open to the room and its sitting in there and its keeping it not quite at tolerance, but close.”
Simmons said the unit should be repaired by next Friday. “They should be there by Friday of next week to replace the compressor outside and put a new head unit in,” Simmons said. “We went a size bigger then what we had because we kind of felt that the old one was working too hard with the added equipment in there that we put in there recently.”
Tucker County Commissioner Mike Rosenau questioned Simmons regarding an early warning system for system failures such as this. “I was going to ask you about that,” Rosenau said. “We had talked earlier, you and I, about a warning system. Is that in the works with this new equipment being installed?”
“That is actually number two on my list,” Simmons said. “There was a couple of issues. Every Tuesday, our generator does a half hour test. It kicks on, runs for a half an hour, when it cycles down, it kicks back on to the main power through the breaker in our server room. Everything being on battery backups, nobody knew it. Dispatchers can’t hear downstairs, there was just no way to know. Once the batteries exhausted their life, everything started shutting off and it was urgent necessity to figure out what was going on.”
Simmons said the problem has since been resolved. “They figured out the problem. We located the breaker that was tripped. We got it back on and everything back up and running within probably 25 minutes.What we did is we took certain pieces of equipment and spread them out around the room on different circuits. We kind of split the load. So we don’t anticipate that happening again.”
Simmons said there is no way to monitor the power levels in the server room. “We don’t have a way to monitor the power levels in there,” Simmons said. “And we don’t have a way to monitor the temperature there. So, today we received the equipment – we are actually going to be the first people in the state to have this. It will monitor the power levels of every device in there. Let us know if power fails or gets low and will also monitor the temperature and will alert us if the temperature rises above a set temperature. We can go check and see what is going on.”
Simmons said that by spending the money on the system now, he hopes to prevent damage to equipment in the future. “The thought process is spend a little money now to prevent harm to the expensive equipment that is already in there. So kind of excited about that.”
Simmons said the system is monitored 24/7 by the company supplying the system. “They will monitor it 24/7 for us,” Simmons said. “And I can also have it set up to send me an alert or other dispatchers, anybody we deem necessary to get an alert. Maintenance guys, whatever.”
Simmons also informed the Commission of issues with the State siren tower. “The third item of interest is our State siren tower,” Simmons said. “It is a hub for not only Tucker County, but surrounding counties for the radio communications. A lot of other counties utilize a microwave system, come use a different set up, but it all goes to that tower. And the other day, the air conditioning unit outside the building exploded.”
Simmons described the incident to the commissioners. “There’s oil, there’s gas. It just completely failed,” Simmons said. “The siren tech come in. He said – you know its the same way, the temperatures have to be within a certain tolerance and it was almost at a 100 degrees in there. To the point that it was tripping the power breaker and he said you’re in danger of losing this tower.”
Simmons said they reached out to the state. “So we were able to get a hold of the Watts center who contacted the National Guard and they brought in one of those big outside heat pump air conditioning units they used to power their FEMA tents. They brought one of those in and its up there sitting in front of the building, the doors open and its got thick duct work ran in there, pumping air in and its within tolerance, but its a band aid.”
Simmons said he received a contact number to reach out to the party responsible for replacement of the unit. “I was able to get a contact number for the person responsible for replacing that because apparently, the building is still owned by the DOH. He replied to me just before leaving work today that he was out of the office, but he would be back first thing in the morning and he would do what he could to get that expedited because I explained to him the urgency of it and it affected multiple counties. It was the only resource any of our first responders had for communication.”
Rosenau questioned Simmons as to how often the State has inspected and monitored the tower. “When you talk to him tomorrow, I want to know if they periodically check that building and the equipment.” Rosenau said. “Its their responsibility. I want to know what schedule they are going to maintain in checking that building and the equipment.”
“The siren network,” Simmons said, “that’s their part of the kitty, per se, for having their stuff in that building was that they maintain the watt, not the air conditioning unit. So, he makes his rounds about every 15 to 20 days, he said. He weed eats, mows, checks everything out.”
“Let me ask you this, that is for their equipment,” Rosenau said. “What about the heat system in the winter? What about the cooling system in the summer? Who checks that?”
“Nobody,” Simmons said.
“So that’s the Department of Highways responsibility,” Rosenau said. “So I want to know from Mr. Shay, what their responsibilities are and how they are going to maintain that building. Because that affects the communication of our 911 Center. Not only ours, but you explained, several counties around.”
Also at the meeting, Simmons was unanimously appointed to 911 Director. Simmons had previously been Interim Director. “You to me deserve it,” Tucker County Commissioner Fred Davis said. “You work hard, you’ve done everything we’ve asked. You went beyond things that we didn’t know that you’ve done. And I know all three of us commissioners are proud of you. We appreciate you very much.
The next meeting of the Tucker County Commission will be held August 9th at 9 a.m. at the Tucker County Courthouse Old Courtroom in Parsons.