How to Keep Your Computers from Overheating in a 911 Center

Posted by Ken Carson on Sep 2, 2016 12:05:34 PM


Computer_OverHeating.jpgI just got back from a job site visit, and the 911 center I visited had their computers sitting outside of the consoles on the floor. Not such a good idea because of all of the potential hazards, such as tripping over the computers, accidentally unplugging them, and/or just knocking them over.

I asked the dispatchers what was going on and if they had run out of room, and they told me that the CAD computers kept overheating sitting in the framework of the consoles. In addition to that, all of the rear access doors were also open to help keep the computers from overheating.  

I thought this problem had been solved years ago, but I guess I was wrong. These consoles were only two years old and were the latest model from that specific manufacturer, so I knew that old age wasn’t the issue. I looked at the dilemma and started asking questions. Here’s what I discovered:

  • The dispatchers started to experience the heat problems almost right after they got the consoles.
  • They weren’t sure why it was only the CAD computers that were having the issues, but they speculated that these computers may give off more heat due to their higher processing power.
  • There were no fans in the consoles framework designed for the computers; there was only venting on the sides of the cabinets.

This seemed a little strange to me. Why would the computer run fine when it is out in the open but not inside a well-vented cabinet. After gathering this information, I saw two problems that were causing the computers to overheat.   

  • First, computers do like airflow. Most computers will do fine just sitting out in the open, but when you have three or four computers next to each other, they tend to warm each other up. My HVAC engineer friend says that one computer will put off the same amount of heat as a person; this is why computers need airflow running through them. If you are having overheating problems, maybe a fan like this will help.
  • The second problem I saw was that the cabinets that the computers sat in did not have much room for air even though they had perforated holes in the sides. The cabinet was about 24” tall, providing only about one inch between the top of the computer and the top of the cabinet. My guess is that the hot air collected in this area. Since hot air rises, it needs more room to escape.  

Fan_Rendering_0.jpgWhat should you do if you have overheating computers?  Here are a couple of things to try
that should help you out:

  • First, as many of you know, you have to open up the console doors to the computers. I know it doesn’t look very attractive, but your computers have to run.
  • Secondly, look for a CPU cabinet fan like this. →

If you will be shopping for new consoles in the next few years, look for consoles that have the computer cabinets outside or separate of the consoles. This will provide a bigger cabinet with more room for air circulation. The consoles that have the computer cabinets under the monitors tend to be too short, allowing the hot air to get stuck. Lastly, make sure they have a fan, and do not pay extra for it--this should be standard on all modern consoles.


If you look for these features when shopping for new consoles, you should be able to minimize any problems with overheating computers. Good luck!

Topics: Features, Dispatch