Irvine, California.—With the start of the 2022 wildfire season early and devastating with record fires in the American Southwest, Verizon has laid out some of its plans to be able to continue to provide critical communications to communities and first responders during wildfires, severe weather, and other natural disasters
With the hottest, driest months of the 2022 wildfire season still awaiting us, and experts predicting another active fire season, teams of Verizon engineers are preparing by conducting emergency drills, testing fiber and cell site readiness, and making sure recovery equipment is in place, the carrier said.
The Verizon Frontline and Verizon Frontline Response Team are working to ensure that they can provide first responders on the front lines of potential disaster response efforts with portable equipment that allows them to maintain mission-critical communications.
Verizon said it maintains a fleet of more than 500 mobile assets, including fully functional and powered cell sites that can replace or enhance network coverage and capacity in a specific area as well as drones and fixed-wing aircraft that can Delivering service from heaven above.
Verizon also has 150 satellite-based mobile network assets that can be used if a fiber connection is lost due to commercial power loss or physical damage. These assets include geostationary and geosynchronous assets. All of these mobile assets are complemented by nearly a thousand portable generators and a comprehensive refueling program.
The company said the use of battery and generator backup systems in sensitive locations such as large cell sites, switch sites and network operations centers also reduces outage risks in the event of commercial power loss. All of Verizon’s macro cell locations have battery power backup and 78% have generator backup.
Verizon engineers are also preparing for the upcoming season by ensuring high fuel levels on all generators at cell sites, testing battery backups at network facilities, placing additional equipment in case additional capacity is needed, and preparing emergency crews to respond quickly to any network problem.
Verizon noted that in 2021, Verizon teams responded to 128 named wildfires, providing more than 2,000 Verizon Frontline solutions to first responders in nearly 200 communities across 16 states.
The Verizon Frontline response team is made up of many first responders and military veterans, and is available 24/7 to deliver Verizon Frontline technologies including mobile cellular locations, drones, charging stations, WiFi hotspots, and other Verizon Frontline devices and solutions that enable communications and/or enhance network performance, the company said.
The carrier also confirmed that the Verizon retail team is ready to assist customers and ensure they have the appropriate devices, accessories, and connectivity they will need to prepare for extended blackouts, mandatory evacuation orders and other extreme circumstances.
When wildfire risk is high, Verizon has also issued these recommendations:
- Keep Devices Protected: While many phones today are waterproof to some degree, you still want to take extra care to ensure phones, tablets, batteries, chargers, and other equipment stay dry and accessible. Plastic zipper storage bags help protect devices, and weatherproof phones, phone cases, and other protective accessories are also available.
- Keep devices fully charged: Ensure that your device is ready when you need it by keeping your phone and tablet batteries fully charged in the event of a commercial power outage.
- Get some backup: When the power is out for an extended period of time, portable battery packs can be a game-changer to ensure you stay connected. Don’t forget your car chargers too in case you need to evacuate.
- Create a list: Keep a list of emergency numbers in your phone so that you have it if needed.
- Be prepared for loss: Take pictures of valuables and other important possessions for potential insurance claims. And be sure to upload it to the cloud so you have a backup.
- Review Checklists: Review bushfire safety recommendations and other resources from the American Red Cross.
- Download useful apps: There are tons of free wildfire notifications, weather, news and safety related apps available to download on your smartphone.
For businesses and government agencies, Verizon has recommended the following:
- Ensure your contact information is up to date and readily available to all employees, including in-home information for remote workers and branch information for satellite offices.
- Stress test for primary and backup networks and support any weak areas
- Make copies of insurance policies, review insurance coverages and update them as appropriate.
- Ensure that employees working from home document all company equipment used to work from home in the event of damage or loss.
- Make sure you have backup plans in place for relocation of work in the event that employees working from home in a fire-affected area have to evacuate or their homes lose commercial power for an extended period.