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Address mix-up delays fire crews

The Salt Lake County Fire Department and the Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) will conduct an investigation into why fire crews were sent to a wrong address Monday, causing a more than 15-minute delay in responding to a house fire.

A fire in the laundry room of a house, 2838 E. Westerling Way (7505 S.), at 12:45 p.m. caused only $5,000 damage. But fire officials said they were lucky the damage wasn't much worse.

The daughter of the homeowner ran to a neighbor's home to call the fire department. The girl told the dispatcher the correct address, Salt Lake County Fire Captain Jay Ziolkowski said. But the dispatcher instead sent firefighters to the address that appeared on her monitor, several blocks away.

Dispatchers at VECC have computers that tell them where a call originated. It's like an advanced caller ID, Ziolkowski said. For some reason, the daughter's call appeared on the dispatcher's screen as Water Vista Way (8145 S. 2680 E.), he said.

Upon further investigation, VECC discovered that all but two houses on Westerling Way showed up on the dispatchers' screens as Water Vista Way.

VECC is working with officials at Qwest to fix the problem, Ziolkowski said.

The problem may have something to do with how the phones in the area were programed years ago, he said. Ziolkowski said he had not seen the problem before.

The Salt Lake County Fire Department, as well as other police and fire agencies in the valley, receive their assignments from dispatchers at VECC.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com