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Cal Utilities Commission Mulls Best Practices For Wildfire Response

California’s Public Utilities Commission held a hearing in San Diego today to consider how to improve communications during wildfires in the future. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

Cal Utilities Commission Mulls Best Practices For Wildfire Response

California’s Public Utilities Commission held a hearing in San Diego today to consider how to improve communications during wildfires in the future. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

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One of the issues that emerged during the wildfires is how to maintain back-up power for vital communication networks if electricity is knocked out by the flames.

Ron Lane of San Diego County’s Emergency Operations Center says lives were saved by the reverse 911 system which put out more than 500,000 calls. But he says many people’s phones can’t receive calls if the power is out.

Lane : Especially early in the morning -- 3 o’clock in the morning -- and you don’t have power and you didn’t know the power’s out, and your only phones rely on power, then you’re not going to receive the reverse 911 call.

The PUC plans to mount an education campaign to urge residents to have at least one phone in the house that doesn’t stop working when the power is out.

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Phone and cell phone providers also will be asked to take steps to provide back up power to their systems to avoid signal failure during future wildfires.

Alison St John KPBS News.

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