Fire rekindles Dallas 911 system debate




Posted on August 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 27 at 7:40 PM

DALLAS – A three-alarm fire near Greenville Avenue and Lovers Lane Monday morning did more than destroy four condo units;  it rekindled complaints about the Dallas 911 system, which has come under fire this summer.  

Bryan Borgman, a resident at the Birchbrook Apartments Two complex, said he witnessed the blaze grow out of control. He claims he called 911 repeatedly to report the fire and nobody picked up.

His claim comes just days after another dispatch-related error in which the caller's death was captured on tape.  

“In the 45 minutes it took for the fire department to get here, I probably could have put it out myself with a hose,” said Borgman, whose unit was one of those destroyed by the fire.  

Borgman said he started calling 911 at 7:51 a.m. when the fire in his neighbor's condo was just starting in the kitchen. 

He said no operator at 911 answered. 

"It would just ring and ring and ring,” Borgman said. “At first, I would just hang up and call back, and you can see by my cell phone call log, that's what I did –  I hung up and called back. Finally I left voicemails for the fire department to come and check out this little fire that's going on." 

Borgman said his cell phone call log shows nine minutes of unanswered calls.

By the time the fire department arrived at 8:26 a.m. –– 37 minutes later –– the fire had already destroyed one unit. 

This complaint on the 911 system comes one week after operators apparently failed to communicate the distress call of Deanna Cook, who was on the phone with an operator while being murdered

In July, an Oak Cliff family complained that their house burned as they tried and failed several times to reach 911

Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway said he is pressing his earlier request that City Manager Mary Suhm conduct an urgent review of the emergency system. 

"You dial 911, the phone should ring two times... maybe three at the most on a busy night... and you are looking to have a voice on the other end of that phone," Caraway said. 

The Dallas Police Department, which operates the 911 system, said the first call it received on Monday's fire came in at 8:18 a.m. -- 27 minutes later than Borgman claims to have started his repeated calls for help.

Police said they have not contacted Borgman to check out his story because they don't know his phone number.