Adair Fire Response Delayed By AT&T Wireless Phones

Friday, September 23rd 2011, 4:13 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

ADAIR, Oklahoma -- A problem with AT&T Wireless phones delayed a 911 call about a house fire in Adair Thursday and caused firefighters to search a burning home for a person who wasn't even there.

Jonny Terry's home in Adair caught fire Thursday morning. Several AT&T customers told News On 6 they attempted to report the fire, without success.

The first police officer at the scene was unable to call out from his AT&T phone. Terry says he tried 15 times to call and tell authorities his disabled wife was not inside, while they were searching the burning home.

"We've been having phone problems for a couple of months," Terry said.

Terry's phone history showed a 6-minute delay from the first attempted call to the one that connected. Terry's home was a complete loss, but no one was injured.

The police chief, who is also a firefighter, says all those delays put everyone at unnecessary risk.

"I think it endangers the public in general, not just people in emergency services," said Adair Police Chief Andy Heathcott.

A representative of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission told News On 6 that wireless phone quality is unregulated and service standards are purely in control of the company - and the customers who use them.

An AT&T spokesperson in Oklahoma City, Emily Lang, told the News on 6 they were glad no one was injured, but regarding the poor service she only said "we are in the process of investigating the reports."