No clear answer seen to Youngstown-Trumbull 911 snafu | Information, Sports activities, Jobs


YOUNGSTOWN – An emergency call in early May from a cell phone at Earl Minotti’s burning house on Lansdowne Boulevard in Youngstown in 2008 was to a cell phone tower in the Liberty Township Police Department 5.4 miles away and to the 911 Center in Trumbull County.

The resulting ping-pong calls – from the phone to the tower and between shipping centers in two counties with different phone companies – resulted in the town’s firefighters taking around six minutes and the house being seriously damaged.

Minotti’s buddy Corby Crissman called after waking up around 4 a.m. to a fire on the third floor of the 1920s house. Crissman assumed the call had gone to the Youngstown 911 Center, which would then send Youngstown firefighters out from a fire station not far away.

However, because the Lansdowne address is in Youngstown rather than Trumbull County, the 911 call recipient did not receive the kind of high-tech card information that an emergency call recipient normally receives, said Rodger Laird, operations manager at the Trumbull County 911 center.

His computer didn’t tell him where Crissman was calling from. Crissman told the answering machine he was on Lansdowne Boulevard in Youngstown.

Trumbull’s computer system indicated it was a “Youngstown” call but gave the caller’s location as the Liberty Police Department. Trumbull County doesn’t have a digital map system for Youngstown, so the location of the call was “like a blank screen,” Laird said.


Trumbull 911 is constantly answering calls from people with Youngstown addresses. For the most part, these calls are actually from Liberty Township in Trumbull County, as much of Liberty has Youngstown mailing addresses. Therefore, callers need to ask the caller several questions to ensure that the person is really talking about Youngstown.

Those questions to Crissman eventually led the caller to call Youngstown to direct the call there, Laird said.

Laird wouldn’t estimate how long it took to get Youngstown firefighters to Minotti’s house that morning, as the call was to Trumbull County first.

“This was a challenging call because it shouldn’t come to us and … we really have to crawl, really work, to get the call to the right place,” he said.

Laird offered no ideas about anything that could have been done differently to speed up the response to the fire.

The Trumbull answering machine took information from Crissman and then called the Youngstown 911 center about 1 minute and 15 seconds after the call to direct it there.

On the day of the fire that destroyed the third floor of the house and caused an estimated $ 25,000 damage, Minotti The Vindicator expressed frustration that it took about six minutes for firefighters to arrive. He estimated the call to Trumbull County slowed the response by a few minutes.

Youngstown Police Department captain Kevin Mercer, who became head of the Youngstown 911 Center last Monday, said Minotti had cause for alarm and promised to investigate the incident and see if something could be done to prevent it from happening in the country Future.

But Laird offered no such reassurance.


Laird, a 25 year old Trumbull 911 veteran, told a T-Mobile representative who owns the cell tower in question, “Calls don’t always go to the nearest tower. (The T-Mobile representative) said terrain, all sorts of things, play a role in where those cell phone calls go. “

Laird said he believed there was probably a Youngstown tower closer than the one in Liberty that could have received the call. “For some reason I can’t even guess why, it clearly went to Liberty,” Laird said.

Most of the time, a cell phone call to 911 goes to the right 911 center, but Trumbull County is bordered by Mercer County, and calls from Sharon and Farrell, Pennsylvania sometimes hit the cell tower on West Hill in Brookfield and come to the Trumbull 911 center , he said.

Although a cell phone call is supposed to “hit the nearest tower,” it doesn’t always do that, Laird said. Faulty calls from Youngstown don’t come often, Laird said.


Another complication with Trumbull 911 transferring a call to the Youngstown 911 Center is that the same phone company is not being used. Trumbull uses CenturyLink and Youngstown AT&T.

This means that a smooth transfer of the call from Trumbull 911 to Youngstown is not possible. Instead, Trumbull 911 must call a 10-digit phone number for Youngstown 911 and verbally tell the Youngstown dispatcher everything Youngstown needs to know. In this instance, the Trumbull 911 answering machine and 911 caller with Youngstown stayed on the line until firefighters were around the scene.

None of the data attached to Crissman’s call – like the latitude and longitude of his call – went directly into the Youngstown 911 system’s computer system, Laird said.

“We cannot switch from our 911 line to your 911 line. If (Youngstown) takes the call, if they take it, they have no idea where that call is coming from, ”Laird said.

And in that case, since the Trumbull 911 caller is unsure of where the cellphone caller is physically located, they could have trouble providing accurate information to Youngstown, Laird said. He noted that it works the other way round too: when Youngstown transfers a call to Trumbull, Trumbull only receives the verbal information.

No one was injured in the fire, but Minotti lost many memorabilia in the attic and Minotti said he did not have homeowner insurance.

According to a report by the Youngstown Fire Department, the house had “significant fire damage on the third floor, including burns through the roof in multiple places” and “extensive water damage on all floors”.

The fire department turned the house off and advised Minotti not to turn it back on until repairs were made.

In the fire report, “power failure, malfunction, etc.” was listed as contributing to the cause of the fire.

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