The 2022 wildfire season got off to an early start with record breaking fires that ravaged large swaths of the American Southwest beginning in April. For people who reside in the West, living with the threat of wildfire during much of the year has become part of the new normal. At Verizon, preparing for wildfires, natural disasters, extreme weather and other emergency situations is something we do all year long to keep communities and first responders connected when it matters most.
Wildfire season is well underway with the hottest and driest months on the horizon, and Verizon’s Response Team is ready. Experts predict another active fire season, so teams of Verizon engineers have been preparing by running emergency drills, testing fiber and cell site readiness, and ensuring recovery equipment is in place. Verizon Frontline and the Verizon Frontline Response Team also stand ready to provide first responders who will be on the front lines of potential disaster response efforts with the mission-critical communications capabilities they’ll need.
Verizon is prepared to keep people connected
Recognized for reliability, Verizon’s extreme network is designed to withstand wildfires, natural disasters and extreme weather, and delivers superior service by including redundancy on critical paths and components to avoid a potential failure of a network component significantly affecting customers. The use of battery and generator backup systems in critical locations such as macro cell sites, switch locations and network operations centers also serves to minimize the risk of disruption if commercial power is lost. All of Verizon macro cell sites have backup battery power and 78% have backup generators. Verizon engineers have been preparing for the coming season by ensuring fuel levels are high on all generators at cell sites, testing battery back-ups at network facilities, positioning extra equipment in case additional capacity is needed, and prepping emergency crews to respond quickly to any network issue.
In case emergency network recovery becomes necessary, Verizon is prepared to respond quickly. Verizon maintains a fleet of over 500 portable assets, including fully functional, generator-powered cells sites that can replace or enhance network coverage and capacity in a given area as well as drones and a fixed wing aircraft that can provide service from the sky above. Additionally, Verizon boasts an industry-leading 150 satellite based portable network assets that can be used in case fiber connection is lost due to loss of commercial power or physical damage. Those assets include mid-Earth orbit and geosynchronous assets. All of those mobile assets are complemented by nearly a thousand portable generators and a comprehensive refueling program.
Verizon Frontline is ready to support first responders
The Verizon Frontline Response Team stands ready to deploy in support of public safety agencies nationwide to ensure they have the mission-critical communications capabilities they need when responding to wildfires and severe weather events. In 2021, the team responded to 128 named wildfires, delivering more than 2,000 Verizon Frontline solutions to first responders in nearly 200 communities across 16 states.
Composed of many former first responders and military veterans, the Verizon Frontline Response Team provides on-demand, emergency assistance during crisis situations to public safety agencies and emergency responders. The team is available 24/7 to deliver Verizon Frontline technologies including portable cell sites, drones, charging stations, WiFi hotspots, and other Verizon Frontline devices and solutions that enable communications and/or boost network performance.
Verizon Frontline is the advanced network and technology built for first responders – developed over nearly three decades of partnership with public safety officials and agencies on the front lines – to meet their unique and evolving needs.
Are you ready for a wildfire?
Verizon’s retail team stands ready to assist customers and ensure they have the right devices, accessories and connectivity they’ll need to prepare for extended power outages, mandatory evacuation orders, and other extreme circumstances. And convenient options like locker, curbside and in store pickup provide quick ways to get what you need and get out.
In addition to the right tech, you’ll also want to take steps to ensure your family is prepared for the season as well. When wildfire risk is high:
- Keep devices protected: While many phones today are some degree of water resistant, you still want to take some extra care to ensure phones, tablets, batteries, chargers and other equipment remain dry and accessible. Plastic zipper storage bags help shield devices, and there are weatherproof phones, phone cases and other protective accessories available.
- Keep devices fully charged: Make sure your device is ready when you need it by keeping phone and tablet batteries fully charged in case commercial power goes out.
- Get some backup: When power is out for an extended period of time, portable battery packs can be a game-changer to ensure you remain connected. Don’t forget your car chargers as well in case you need to evacuate.
- Create a list: Keep a list of emergency numbers in your phone so that you have them if needed.
- Be prepared for loss: Take pictures of valuables and other important belongings for possible insurance claims. And make sure they’re uploaded to the cloud so you have a backup.
- Review checklists: Review the wildfire safety recommendations and other resources from the American Red Cross.
- Download useful apps: There are plenty of free wildfire notification, weather, news, and safety-related apps available for download to your smartphone.
Business continuity is critical
The need for a secure, stable connection for business continuity is never more apparent than during wildfire season, extreme weather events and other emergency situations. This is especially important with today’s increasingly common hybrid-work environments, in which highly distributed and mobile workforces are reliant on remote collaboration and digital networking tools to do business across wide and local areas simultaneously.
Verizon’s suite of business solutions provides continuity of service for customers, from SD-WAN, to advanced security tools, to cloud and edge applications and the BlueJeans by Verizon video collaboration platform, fixed-wireless Internet for primary or backup connectivity. Verizon’s network-as-a-service strategy gives customers the flexibility to scale services as they require so that they’re ready for anything.
As businesses launch their in-office and at-home hybrid operations, now is a great time to assess readiness plans ahead of storm season. Suggested steps for businesses and government organizations include:
- Make sure you have contact information updated and readily available for all employees, including at-home information for remote workers and branch information for satellite offices.
- Stress-test primary and backup networks and shore up any weak areas
- Make copies of insurance documents, review insurance coverages and update as appropriate.
- Ensure employees working from home have documented all corporate equipment being used to work from home in case of damage or loss.
- Ensure backup plans are in place to shift work in case work-from-home employees in a fire-impacted area have to evacuate their home or their home loses commercial power for an extended period.
Verizon supports its employees in critical times
The VtoV Employee Relief Fund is a charity that provides aid for Verizon employees displaced from their homes due to natural disasters – such as fire, flood, hurricane, severe weather – or domestic violence. Since its inception in 2013, VtoV has provided over $4.7 Million in grants to more than 4,400 Verizon employees around the world. The grants are used toward food, clothing, shelter and other necessities during life-changing disasters. In addition to the generosity our employees show in support of their fellow V Teamers, Verizon Foundation offers a generous matching gift program with 100% of every donation going directly to help a V Teamer in need, because Verizon pays all administrative fees.