December 3, 2015 3:33 pm
Updated: December 4, 2015 12:36 pm

Bell Aliant fire causes wide-spread phone service disruption in NS

WATCH ABOVE: A small fire caused widespread phone outages across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Natasha Pace reports.

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HALIFAX – EMO is asking Nova Scotians not to “test” call 911 to see if it’s working, after a fire at the Bell Aliant building on North Street in Halifax caused a major phone disruption.

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In an email from Bell Aliant, the phone company tells Global News they have approximately 140,000 customers in Nova Scotia and PEI experiencing interrupted service because of the fire.

They said they are trying to reroute customers and restore service as quickly as possible but have no estimated time for service to be fully restored.

The outage left emergency service providers scrambling to make sure everything was up and running. As part of their contingency plans, EHS directed ambulances back to fleet centres, where they could communicate quicker with one another and be dispatched from.

“The risk in this situation is for the individuals that only have a landline without an alternative way of communicating, whether it be Wi-Fi or cell phone or what have you. Those individuals will face the biggest complications here if they are having an issue,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Municipal Affairs & EMO.

There were concerns immediately following the outage that 911 was down, but that wasn’t the case.

“Currently we’ve had no difficulty responding to any calls or difficulty receiving calls,” said Chuck Bezanson, Divisional Commander with Halifax Fire.

The outage has left some hospital switchboards unable to connect calls to patient rooms. The Mobile Mental Health Crisis Line and the province’s 811 service are also currently unavailable. Anyone needing immediate services is asked to go to the nearest emergency department.

Halifax Fire also says that the province’s 311, 211 and 411 lines are being affected because of the outage.

There are also several reports that personal customer service is being affected.

The fire was put out quickly and there were no injuries.

“The fact that there hasn’t been any issues, there haven’t been any delays in calls, that there’s no problems in terms of 911 communicating with first responders or receiving calls from the public, I think that should speak in great confidence of the service that we have in place,” said Minister Churchill.

 

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