Dallas officials believe the city’s emergency alarm system was hacked Friday night, causing sirens across the city to sound off in error shortly before midnight. The city manually shut down parts of the system to turn off the city’s 156 alarms — usually heard only during weather emergencies — by 1:20 a.m. Saturday.
City officials are working with the Federal Communications Commission to figure out how the hack happened, said Rocky Vaz, the city’s emergency management director, during a news conference Saturday afternoon. They have not contacted other authorities at this point, he said.
City officials hope to have the system up and running by Sunday or Monday at the latest. As officials are booting the system back up, emergency alarms may sound off again; officials urge residents not to call 911 reporting the sirens during that time.
“It does appear at this time that it was a hack,” said Sana Syed, the city’s public information officer, “and we do believe that this came from the Dallas area.”
The incident, initially labeled a “system malfunction,” sparked an avalanche of worried posts on social media and calls to the emergency 911 system. Officials Saturday said the longest wait time at the 911 call center was six minutes.
The City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management hosted a Facebook Live debrief Saturday afternoon.