Wireless Weighs in to Help First Responders Fight Western Wildfires

Verizon Wireless expands network coverage and dispatches hundreds of mobile devices throughout the western U.S.

By on August 29, 2013

Across the western United States, there are 30 major wildfires burning more than 714,000 acres in seven states, with greatest damage done in California and Idaho.

In California, CAL FIRE reported that there are currently 9,000 firefighters battling 10 wildfires across the state, and 4,200 of them are fighting the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park. Communication is especially critical when disaster strikes and Verizon Wireless prepares year-round so that families, businesses, government and emergency personnel stay connected during crises. 

Since the first fires flared in July, Verizon Wireless Crisis Response Teams have rolled out support for 13,000 first responders at more than 20 wildfires in the West. The company has loaned hundreds of mobile phones and other wireless devices such as jetpacks, routers and Network Extenders that enable mobile broadband connections to its 4G LTE network and provided special service to incident command centers.

Verizon Wireless has also deployed Cells on Wheels (COWs) and network Repeaters on Trailers (RATs) to expand wireless coverage and boost capacity for emergency crews and residents affected by wildfires. Even outside Verizon Wireless’ service territory, near Yosemite National Park at the Rim Fire command center, Verizon Wireless has loaned a solar-powered repeater to the local wireless carrier to enable wireless connectivity to the Verizon network in a remote part of Tuolumne County.

In addition to its fleet of mobile equipment, Verizon Wireless’ network redundancy and maintenance practices have proven especially valuable to first responders during natural disasters and emergencies. Standard Verizon Wireless network-reliability features include battery back-up power at virtually all its facilities, as well as generators at all switching facilities and most cell site locations.

Click here to see how Verizon builds survivability into its wireless network, and here for a list of tips for consumers on how to use their wireless service to prepare and stay connected in an emergency.