Detroit firefighters used cell phones to communicate with dispatchers when the city's communications center went down on Aug. 20. During the outage, a four-alarm fire swept through a pallet yard.
At 4:24 p.m. Detroit Communications Center dispatched a still alarm Engine 30 and Ladder 25 to check 14555 Meyers for a fire. As they turned out, a column of smoke was visible for miles.
The first arriving unit, Engine 30, requested a box and asked for a third engine via a cell phone. Dispatched were Engines 53, 40, Squad 5, Battalion 4.
Using his cell phone, Battalion 4 asked for a second alarm. At 5 p.m. Engines 55, 44, 59, Ladder 17, Squad 1, Chief 8, Senior Chief 203 were dispatched.
Soon after, a third alarm was struck with Engines 42,35, 27, Tower Ladder 7, Squad 2, Chief 2 and Deputy Chief 201 alerted.
At 5:15, Engines 29, 33, Ladder 18 responded when a third alarm was called.
The fire was fought by two aerial ladders, one tower ladder, one deck gun and a number of hoselines.
By 6 p.m., the city's communications system became functional and crews remained on scene for hours.