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SF fire dept lost computer password during massive blaze

'Not like we'll have internet if Big One hits'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

San Francisco authorities appear to be having network problems again, after the Fire Department lost the password for its backup network in the middle of a major shout.

The revelation came into an inquest into a major blaze in the North Beach area of the city on New Year's Eve which left 48 people homeless, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The paper said that Mayor Ed Lee and other officials "listened with growing disbelief as an emergency services representative casually mentioned that the computer had crashed as the fire burned."

When officials asked whether the firefighters had switched to a backup system, the answer came in the negative.

"We couldn't find the password, and the only person who knew it wasn't there," the rep replied.

The connection was down for two or three hours, but the rep added, "That's what we have pencils and paper for."

The blase attitude might seem strange in a city that lives in constant danger of being hit by a massive earthquake.

But as division chief Rob Dudgeon added, "We still had radios and cellphones. And it's not like we are going to have internet connection if we get hit with the Big One."

It's not the first time SF authorities have come to grief over network passwords. Last year San Francisco's own BoFH Terry Childs was given a four-year sentence for locking the city out of its own network. ®

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