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  1. #1
    ccullum
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    Default Down Power Lines...Stretched Resources...Contingency Plans?

    I have been unable to find any solid information on this topic as of yet and would appreciate any feedback.

    How does your department handle power line emergencies during severe thunderstorms or ice storms? Specifically when the majority of fire companies are either “babysitting” other downed power lines or dealing with other emergencies?

    Besides mutual aid requests to continue responding to emergencies, does your department have any type of contingency plans for fire apparatus operations during times of overload?

    Example of problem:

    Severe thunderstorm has come through and 90% of resources are currently dealing with emergencies throughout the city, 30-40% of which are downed power lines. Once the storm passes, these fire apparatus are required to stay at the scene until the power company shows up. This can take hours and hours. Companies are switched out every 4 hours.
    --

    Some resources one may think of using would be CERT teams, Code Enforcement officers, Police, etc… However, some of these just would not work for safety reasons….and others for logistical/fiscal reasons.


    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by ccullum; 06-22-2009 at 10:37 AM.

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    If the call volume is light and the electric co has a reasonable ETA, we will stay and watch the lines. If it's during an ice storm or similar, we will secure the area, notify the control center and go on to the next call. We make sure that there is minimal fire hazard, and mark the area to the best of our ability and move on.

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    We respond, make sure there is no immediatte fire danger, then clear and turn scene over to sherfiff's department.

    We will very rarely wait for the power company. Typical exception is during a risk period for bruah fires if the line is arching over an area with ignitable fuels.

    In a ice storm, hurricane or tornado situation it's highly unlikly we would stand by as our resources would likely be stretched and mutual aid is very limted, and likely, they would be unavailable due to situations in their own districts.

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    I'd like to see you guys even DRIVE in/on ice.That in itself would be fun to watch. T.C.

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    101 ..

    Even the mention of snow or ice sends the folks down here into a tizzy.

    A couple of years ago we got a little more than 2 inches and you would have sworn the end of the world was coming.

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    I've been in the Carolinas when it snowed.It was fun to watch.I can't imagine what it would be like in La but I suspect the results are similar. I also suspect that none of your rigs have aggressive rear rubber(tires)necessary for going in slop(slushy snow)the only kind of snow you guys would ever see.I've had to deal with OTR drivers who made their first journey north in the winter,a driving lesson is usually in order when they get stuck.More power is NOT the answer. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccullum View Post
    Some resources one may think of using would be CERT teams, Code Enforcement officers, Police, etc… However, some of these just would not work for safety reasons….and others for logistical/fiscal reasons.
    Most likely, if the storm you are describing actually happens, the Code Enforcement Officer will be too busy running around town inspecting damaged homes or businesses. Not to mention the fact that they would laugh their asses off if you asked them to man a roadblock.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Be it thunderstorms or ice storms, we will decrease our response-level appropriately. Automatically, any non-injury MVA, downed line, or arcing line which is not actively threatening life-safety or a structure is put on a list.

    Typically we have call-in personnel man our brush trucks to investigate line down incidents and report the status to dispatch so that they can in turn advise the electric company or other appropriate utility. If it's a safety concern, we will advise dispatch and do our best to create a safety zone via fire line tape or whatever other means we can.

    If there is a life-safety issue or structure threatened, a company will respond to assess and attempt to handle, if possible.

    We've been getting pretty good at coordinating with the utility companies, PD, etc. with all the ice and thunderstorms we've been having the last few years. The thing is, have a plan before it hits and it'll be easier to handle when it does hit.

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    We had just such a case this last winter. We ended up stringing up fire line tape across a "T" intersection and leaving to go to more dangerous locations. The reason we were able to do this at the one intersection is because of it's remote location in relation to the rest of the locations involved.
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    We used to have a civil defense unit that sat on lines...till the village wanted to save $30,000 and disbanded them. Now, if it is a real hazard, we sit, if it isn't "that" bad the police or Public Works sits.
    When we run out of rigs, we run out of rigs and someone picks up the slack.
    We can do a call back, but if it is that bad it will take a while to get the troops in.

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    we call back and use "rovers" 2 guys in suburbans that go around to down power lines to keep frontline companies in service more. And we dont sit on a line forever that would be impossible in bad icestorms. Do your best to make it safe and go to the next unless it is really unsafe then you have to sit on it until PD shows up then have them sit on it. Also we call back Chiefs and they dispatch calls and try to prioritize them instead of dispatch just banging them out. Even doing all that on bad storms you will have backlogs of calls.

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    go to the area, tape it off with caution tape and take the next job. If it looks like it's going to be an immediate threat we might sit on it, but unless it looks like something could catch on fire real soon we'd be moving on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nameless View Post
    go to the area, tape it off with caution tape and take the next job. If it looks like it's going to be an immediate threat we might sit on it, but unless it looks like something could catch on fire real soon we'd be moving on.
    This is the approach I like.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    I'm not worried about something catching on fire. I'm worried about the pedestrian that gets killed because we didn't feel like babysitting the wire for a little while.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    I'm not worried about something catching on fire. I'm worried about the pedestrian that gets killed because we didn't feel like babysitting the wire for a little while.
    True, I wonder why the power company doesn't have that level of concern?
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    I'm not worried about something catching on fire. I'm worried about the pedestrian that gets killed because we didn't feel like babysitting the wire for a little while.
    The pedestrian that didn't have enough sense to get out of the rain or to leave the downed powerline alone?

    The only guys that seem to babysit things around here are the ones that are doing it to get out of another run. They would be the same ones that don't wanna do anything when it isn't storming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The pedestrian that didn't have enough sense to get out of the rain or to leave the downed powerline alone?

    The only guys that seem to babysit things around here are the ones that are doing it to get out of another run. They would be the same ones that don't wanna do anything when it isn't storming.


    LOL, yeah what he said

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The pedestrian that didn't have enough sense to get out of the rain or to leave the downed powerline alone?

    The only guys that seem to babysit things around here are the ones that are doing it to get out of another run. They would be the same ones that don't wanna do anything when it isn't storming.
    Hey, what's this LOUD BUZZING ARCING THING, let me grab it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I'd like to see you guys even DRIVE in/on ice.That in itself would be fun to watch. T.C.
    We may be one of the few depts prepared for ice. All apparatus that are not 4WD or 6WD have chains, as does our 6x6 military tanker.

    We babysit powerlines until PD or the power company relieves us.

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    Note yours and mine location. My reference was to snow in LA(bayou country). TRUST ME when I tell you THAT IS fun to watch. EVERYTHING we own goes in snow and ice, and anything we've ordered in the last 5 yrs has auto chains. As you, we have a 5T 6x6 when all else fails.Plus a dozer.Somethings gonna go. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 06-25-2009 at 09:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The pedestrian that didn't have enough sense to get out of the rain or to leave the downed powerline alone?
    Which constitutes 95% of the general public. The remaining 5% are members of this forum. You know as well as I do that if the road wasn't closed, everyone would just drive/walk right on by it or right on over it. It could be actively arcing and they'd still do it. Saying "well only the stupid ones would die so its ok" doesn't cut it.

    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    The only guys that seem to babysit things around here are the ones that are doing it to get out of another run. They would be the same ones that don't wanna do anything when it isn't storming.
    Where I come from, there is no police manpower to babysit them. So the options are babysit them or leave them for someone to get killed. SOMEONE has to do it, whether it is FD or PD. But if the PD can't, tag your it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Where I come from, there is no police manpower to babysit them. So the options are babysit them or leave them for someone to get killed. SOMEONE has to do it, whether it is FD or PD. But if the PD can't, tag your it.

    You forgot the option of the power company, it's their line. We notify them, secure the area as best we can, and go on to the next one. If they don't care enough to get someone to the scene in a timely manner, why are we tying up a fire co. to babysit THEIR problem?

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    It isn't their problem until they get there to take over. So you're in favor of leaving an energized power line down unprotected because you're too lazy or special to babysit it until the power company or someone else arrives.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    It isn't their problem until they get there to take over. So you're in favor of leaving an energized power line down unprotected because you're too lazy or special to babysit it until the power company or someone else arrives.
    I'm not lazy or special, don't be a tool. If you want to park your rig and stare at a downed line for hours be my guest, hopefully no one will need you.

    The OP's question was related to the system being overloaded following a major storm where.....

    "90% of resources are currently dealing with emergencies throughout the city, 30-40% of which are downed power lines."

    So yeah, I'm gonna leave it for the power company and go back in service, most likely to catch another run for a downed power line. Winter windstorms like that are fairly common here, and we'd quickly be short on companies if everyone babysat the first downed line they went on.

    I've babysat downed lines many times, but only when things were fairly quiet, and even then we'd monitor the dispatch channel for anything serious in our first-due.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    It isn't their problem until they get there to take over. So you're in favor of leaving an energized power line down unprotected because you're too lazy or special to babysit it until the power company or someone else arrives.
    How far do you take this?

    Report of a house fire with entrapment. Are you gonna leave the rig and five guys to watch that powerline now?
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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