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I remember seeing dozens of multi-thousand pair cables, strung along the pavement at the side of 2nd Avenue, heading off somewhere to another CO building, being used as huge "jumper cables" to provide temp service. The cops had one lane of the avenue cordoned off to create an alley for the cables, and Empire City Subway Co (NYTelCo's subsidiary that did the digging in Manhattan) made trenches at every cross street, and the cables were covered with planking to allow traffic to cross.


Arthur P. Bloom
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I do note one error in the quoted paragraph..
"shipped by cargo jet", except the film shows it being unloaded from a propeller driven aircraft, which appears to be a Lockheed L-188 Electra.

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Anybody have any idea of how many switches in North America have fires that take them out of service each year?

I can't imagine it being a large number, I don't even recall hearing about service being out in Manitoba because of a fire, only software errors. And that's only once every 20 years or so.

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Fortunately, CO fires are rare..

Besides the NY Telephone fire, there was the Hinsdale, IL fire in 1988, which required Illinois Bell to replace the switch because of heavy smoke damage caused by the delay in reporting the fire.

There were also fires in Los Angeles in 1994, and in Toronto in 1999, both of which were in power rooms, and resulted in a loss of power and telephone services for some number of hours, but no permanent damage to switches.

More common is outside plant damage caused by natural disasters such as floods, storms, and wildland fires, such as the ones in southern California in 2003.

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Arthur P. Bloom
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From my brief experience as a trainee switchman,I am surprised that CO fires did not occur more frequently.I worked at 104 broad street,the southernmost CO in manhattan.If I recall correctly ,the entire building contained ancient panel switching equipment.There was a title of worker called "powerman".His entire duties consisted of removing high amperage fuses to polish the fuse blades,and every hour take a rag soaked in kerosene and hold it against the commutator of the motor-generators that supplied the 48vdc. The power man explained that Bell Labs ordered this procedure to produce "quieter" direct current.

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