PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The Pawtucket Fire Department continues to work without computers that were hacked on Saturday, forcing dispatchers to use a manual system to respond to emergency calls and prompting continued concern over firefighters personal information.
The scope of the problem depends on whether you ask firefighters or city administrators.
Rhode Island State Police are investigating who caused the problem, according to city public information officer Wilder Arboleda, who said there are no indications personal information such as social security numbers were compromised.
But IAFF Local 1261 President Scott Giroux said “several” firefighters have received a number of emails and robo-calls that they believe is related to the problem.
According to Giroux, one firefighter received an email that included his bank account password in the subject line and others have been contacted about their social security numbers.
“I find it too coincidental this many [firefighters] are having these issues that they didn’t have before, in the days after the system was hacked,” Giroux said.
Arboleda said emphatically personal information has not been compromised.
‘This is not the case and another example that falls into the category of plain and simple “bullying” as the fire union continues with contract negotiations.”
Those negotiations have been underway for about three years and are currently in arbitration.
Interim Public Safety Director Tina Goncalves said the system has an additional level of encryption designed to protect personal information, but Giroux said that has not subdued the concerns.
Arboleda said computers have been brought back on-line in the department dispatch unit, but some of the work is still being done the “old-fashioned” way, according to Giroux.
Each city street has a “run card” that includes which stations should respond to an emergency run there.
Normally that information is in the computers, but Giroux and administrators said since the system was hacked, the dispatchers are manually accessing the run cards to alert the proper stations about the emergencies.
Goncalves said the manual usage of the run cards is being used as a backup, “verification process to confirm that all systems are functioning at peak effectiveness.”
The city added a third dispatcher to each shift to expedite the process.
No one is saying how long the investigation might take, or when the computer system will be back on-line.