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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Post Securing utilities

    Okay, so here's my question....What is the best way to secure, turn off, disable, etc. electrical service to a structure? You can turn off gas or water with various tools but what is the best way to (safely) turn off the power? In my department, most of our structure fires are 1-family dwellings. I wish it were required for all residences to have one big breaker to kill the power to the building, but that's not the case. We often pull the meter from the meter pan, but my ex-chief works for the power company and he warned us that SOME meters that look just like a common household meter actually house a 3-phase system (say, if they're running a welding machine in the shed out back or something like that) that will arc out and make a big nasty fireball if you try to pull the meter. So that kind of made me shy away from pulling meters. Waiting for the utility company is an option, but it usually takes them 20-30 minutes to arrive....not real handy if you have a working fire. I was just wondering if anyone out there has a solution. <img src="confused.gif" border="0"> <img src="confused.gif" border="0"> <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"


  2. #2
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    thats a job we leave to experienced members, or electricians who are members if we have that option... if you have a 2 man team have someone with a pike pole hanging on to your scott pack, just in case you get zapped he can pull you off.. <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> wooden pike poles if you want to get technical
    " truck till the casket drops "

    www.lynbrookfd.org

    My views and opinions do not represent the views and standards of the Department or Company that I belong to.

  3. #3
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    The safest way is to have the utility company disconnect service to the building. They usually do this by cutting the drops on the poles. The meters used in our area do NOT disconnect power when pulled. The meter is actually in parallel with the feed - current flows even when the meter isn't present - over exposed copper bars.

    The only option available to us is shutting off all visible circuit breakers and/or removing fuses. In most residences, shutting off the main breaker does the trick. If there has been a lot of "creative" rewiring, there may be all sorts of oddball stuff: multiple boxes, wires coming off ahead of the main breaker, etc.
    Proud to be honored with IACOJ membership. Blessed by TWO meals cooked by Cheffie - a true culinary goddess. Expressing my own views, not my organization's.

  4. #4
    Senior Member apatrol's Avatar
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    Gotta have the power company turn off the power at the pole....and make sure to do a walk around looking for pirated lines coming into the house....There is a story somewhere about a truckload of Philly FF's that got zapped by an illegal electrical feed from the power lines after the power company cut the legal feed....Any Philly guys that can tell that story?

    Stay Safe

  5. #5
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    Thumbs down

    Don't pull the meter. You are putting yourself in more danger by doing that than by going in before the power is cut.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BFD196's Avatar
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    We always have the power company come. At our last fire, I turned around and noticed they were up working on the top of the poll within 15 minutes.

    [ 12-20-2001: Message edited by: BFD45 ]</p>

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Halligan84's Avatar
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    Getting zapped while pulling a meter is the least of your worries. Taking the arc blast in your face is the problem. A small mistake while pulling a meter can get you a faceful of glass and fire. To make matters worse, like the others said you may not have secured the power anyway!. Call the power company, open the main breaker when you find it and report any unusual problems. Very, very rarely is power ever secured in the first minutes of a residential fire and electrical shock is generally not an issue for firefighters.

  8. #8
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    Residential structures usually have the meter located just outside the main service panel. Look inside the structure for the main panel and turn off the main breaker leaving all other breakers untouched. If the main service panel is located more than 5 feet from the meter a separate disconnedting means is required, many times mounted right next to the meter. Pulling a meter while it is under a load is very dangerous.

    Commercial structures usually use an inductive pickup type of meter and it WILL NOT disconnect the power to the building.

    COntact your local electrical inspector for exceptions to the National Electric Code in your area. (Switches,disconnects, ect.) They will be happy to give you some training. A local electrical contractor is also a good resource.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the good input. The last structure fire that we went to we got lucky, because that ex-chief I mentioned (the one who works for the power company) lived right across the street. Power lines were down (a tractor/trailer rig had hit the house). He went to his company service truck, got his pole, and disconnected the power at the pole before we got there. We're not always so fortunate, though. Halligan84, the arc blast is exactly what we were warned about. Never seen it happen, but we were warned that it could, especially with the 3-phase service. Unfortunately, in our area, there isn't much code enforcement and you find all kinds of "creative rewiring" as someone mentioned. Very rarely will you find one main disconnect either. Again, thanks for the input.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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