Milwaukee area fire departments are using the same 911 software that delayed the fatal blaze

WAUKESHA, Wisc. – Waukesha Police blame a software malfunction for delaying response to a fire that killed two people.

The software was supposed to send firefights to the fire automatically, but instead there was at least a five-minute delay.


The gutted residence after catching fire in Waukesha on Tuesday morning.

The Waukesha Police Department says the 911 call came in around 1:25 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8. Police were sent, but not firefighters. It took five minutes before 911 dispatchers dispatched firefighters and another five minutes before they arrived on the scene.

Waukesha uses ProPhoenix software and the police department says it was this system that had a problem.

The ProPhoenix software is so popular in the area that the Wauwatosa Police Department posted a testimonial on the ProPhoenix website endorsing the system saying:

“The CAD system is really easy to use….. The system’s search function works in the natural way a user would expect.”

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The gutted residence after catching fire in Waukesha on Tuesday morning.

According to the City of Milwaukee Fire Department, all fire municipalities except the city use this ProPhoenix software, including the North Shore Fire Department.

“There’s a very small margin of error allowed in the emergency services, so any time there’s a failure like this, we definitely have a concern,” Battalion Chief Dan Tyk said.

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Location of the fire Tuesday morning.

However, over a decade ago, the ProPhoenix was embroiled in a lawsuit with the city of Mentor, Ohio. The municipality sued for a full refund because it said there were “persistent and/or new material defects”. The city had purchased the software in 2009.

Two years earlier, in 2007, the City of Waukesha purchased its software from ProPhoenix. However, the fire department says that at this time it has never encountered any problems so far.

A spokesperson for Wisconsin Mutual Aid Box Alarm System or MABAS, which provides assistance and resources to fire departments, said these failures can occur with any software system.

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Testimonial on the Wauwatosa Police Department’s ProPhoenix site about their software.

“There are fire departments, this whole country to use this kind of technology, whether it’s ProPhoenix or someone else,” said Wisconsin MABAS spokesman Peter O’Leary. “I think, as reliable as these systems are, we know they could fail.”

But the frequency of outages within a 911 center itself is not known, according to April Heinze of the National Emergency Number Association.

“Nobody is really following this because nobody has offered funding to do it,” Heinze said.

However, it is quite common for fire departments, including North Shore dispatchers, to be willing to revert to the old method of fire dispatch and EMS, which includes the use of a radio, of a pen and paper.

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North Shore Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Tyk speaks with reporter Rebecca Klopf.

“This is something we are training on and have set up safes to be able to respond as quickly as possible, knowing that it will probably take longer to deal with the process manually than if it were automated. through software,” Tyk said.

TMJ4 News has contacted ProPhoenix about what happened in Waukesha and they said it was under investigation and could not comment at this time.

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