Operator fired for 911 failure

August 28, 2009 2:21:34 PM PDT
Durham County officials plan to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission after firefighters were not sent to the right home.A man died in a blaze at a house on Shantercliff Place, just north of I-85 earlier this month.

Officials say a woman who called for help was using the Vonage phone system, and the caller's address did not show up in the 911 operator's computer screen. Durham officials blame Vonage for the problem - hence the FCC complaint.

But officials say the 911 operator was also at fault because she didn't follow procedure.

There was more than a 4-minute delay getting to the fire because the operator didn't get the right address from the caller.

The caller spelled the name of the street several times, even said her own address.

  • Caller: "115 Shanterliff Place is in Durham."
  • 911: "C-h-a-n-t-i-c-l-e-e-r?"
  • Caller: "S-h-a-n-t-e-r-c-l-i-f-f" (becomes garbled)
  • 911: "C-h-a-n-t-e-r..."
  • Caller: "C-l-i-f-f."
  • 911: "Chanticleer?" (garbled)

Click here to listen to the full 911 call

Officials say the operator should have asked the caller for her phone number. That would have pulled up the correct address.

The operator was fired Thursday.

After firefighters got to the fire and put it out, they discovered the body of 74-year-old Marvin Jacobs inside the home near a kitchen door.

How the fire started is still under investigation.

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