1. #1
    Richard Woods
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question FIGHTING WILDLAND FIRES AROUND POWERLINES

    I am after any information anyone can provide regarding the hazards & precautions associated with fighting forest fires under or near high voltage transmission lines. In particular those relating to the risk of power arcing through smoke to earth. We have had a safety issue arise here in New South Wales Australia and were looking for any information that anyone may have come across.

    thanks

    ------------------
    Richard Woods
    FIRE INVESTIGATION OFFICER
    NSW RURAL FIRE SERVICE

  2. #2
    SWIDFCWINS
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    Richard Woods:

    Your question about operations under or near
    power lines is a good one.

    Common sense dictates that one just does not operate under or in close proximity to electric transmission wires. Smoke can and has helped to create arcs of potentially ly current at wildland fires. Heat can also cause the wires to droop downwards or to become dislodged from a pole or tower. For instance,one may not be aware of a live wire that has made contact with a metal fence. Then one touches that charged fence and, whamo!Then some of your fire buddies try to rescue you and they get whacked as well.Such a tragedy happened last year.

    Simply stated. Be real cautious around electricity. Hope this helps out a bit.

    G'Day, Mate!

    ------------------
    DFCWINS


    [This message has been edited by SWIDFCWINS (edited 04-11-2001).]

  3. #3
    Richard Woods
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    G'Day!

    Thanks for the info!

    I am hoping to see if your Parks Service has looked at some research in this area. We have heard of cases where power lines have arced through smoke and whilst our crews are weary about working around them, they also tend to be the favored area for back burns and control lines as the power agencies keep the growth underneath them to a minimum- great fire breaks! Certainly the issue of sagging lines is a real one. Can you refer this to any of your power utility companies to see if they have addressed the issue?

    Thanks for the Post.


    Richard

  4. #4
    cbp3
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Greetings, Richard
    I've been involved with wildland fire here for 20 years, and agree that the right-of-way under a power line is often the best firebreak for an indirect attack. We have often taken advantage of them, but we are always cautious. We attempt to work from one or the other side of the clearing, not directly under the lines. We are VERY careful with water streams in these locations. While spontaneous arcing is rare, I have witnessed it through very heavy smoke conditions. One event stands out particularly; in 1995 we were dealing with what became a 5000 acre fire that burned into a nuclear power plant. You can imagine the size of the high-tension lines that transmitted power to the grid.
    During our defense of the plant, we counted several dozen artificial lightning discharges. The smoke was heavier than one would normally endure, but since we were in a point defense mode, we tried a bit harder than we would have otherwise.
    Generally, the likelihood of spontaneous discharge is related to the amount of power the transmission line is carrying, the volume of smoke between the groung and the lines, and the presence of conductors in proximity to the current. We do not generally experience this problem under normal conditions, and have yet to suffer any injuries from it. Still, I'd like to think this is because of safe practices conducted in these areas. If you would like, we have access to a brochure put out by the local power company concerning exactly this topic. Let me know, and I'll try to scan one and send it to you.
    Remember: Keep a healthy respect for these situations!
    Stay safe

    ------------------

  5. #5
    Richard Woods
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Arrow

    Yes thanks. We would certainly be keen to see any information that may throw some light on this issue. It is surprising that no-one has undertaken more research into the topic. If the document can be e-mailed I would appreciate it.

    thanks for the help.

    ------------------
    Richard Woods
    FIRE INVESTIGATION OFFICER
    NSW RURAL FIRE SERVICE

  6. #6
    Richard Woods
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Yes thanks. We would certainly be keen to see any information that may throw some light on this issue. It is surprising that no-one has undertaken more research into the topic. If the document can be e-mailed I would appreciate it.

    thanks for the help.

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