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L.A. 911 System Down for 17 Hours

October 12, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Workers using hair dryers to clean hundreds of delicate circuit boards brought the city’s 911 system back on line Sunday after sprinklers flooded a communications room.

A backup system kicked in and rerouted emergency calls to individual police stations during the 17 hours that power was shut off to the dispatch center.

Sprinklers put out a fire Saturday afternoon in a storage room below City Hall, but 2,000 gallons of water seeped down and soaked ceiling-high racks of circuit boards that link 911 operators to area emergency dispatchers.

``There were cables floating in six inches of water. That’s the kiss of death. People aren’t even allowed to drink coffee at their desks because they could spill it,″ said supervisor Monika Giles. ``We’re lucky it came back on at all.″

Workers also were drenched.

``It was like being in a submarine when the hatch blows off,″ said technical operator Bryan Steadman.

The city plans close the 911 center after construction is completed on two new dispatch centers being built above ground.

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