1. #1
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    Default We need the Power Company NOW!

    A Posting From Forum Moderator Ron Moore

    Let's discuss the procedures your department uses for summoning the power company to a crash scene. There is a difference between a damaged power pole at a crash scene with intact wires and an incident with live wires down and contacting a vehicle with a patient trapped inside.

    How do you let the power company know how serious the situation is?
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

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    Default (Use) of Power

    I know this is probibly not the norm, but if we need a power truck on scene, we go and get them. Our PD has been known to pull over the power company trucks and personally escort them to the scene. This has happened twice in the last 3 weeks, (that I know of).
    A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

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    Most of Connecticut is served by Connecticut Light & Power, a part of Northeast Utilities.

    Following the death of Somers, CT Captain Craig Arnone in 1997, who came into contact with energized wires at the scene of a house fire during a severe snow storm, CL&P revamped their procedures tremendously for notification, call tracking, and prioritization.

    We can request CL&P at one of three "Priorities"

    Priority 3 -- No apparantent danger. This can be items like a branch across wires, not burning, or telephone poles that were hit by a car but aren't broken and otherwise don't look seriously damaged. Essentially things CL&P should check out.

    Priority 2 -- Hazards. This is the majority of what we deal with on the fire side, including things like wires down in the roadway, or needing power shut off to a residence due to a fire. This would also include a pole that is broken but the still standing and similiar situations.

    Priority 1 -- Immediately Dangerous. This is the like of power lines down on cars. You would also use this if you have powerlines down preventing you from operating near the car, and you'll also occassionally hear a Chief stretch the use of this when power lines are significantly impacting a fire operation, like aerial placement.

    It's unusual for us to wait more than 20 minutes for a Trouble Truck after placing a Priority 2 request, unless we're in storm conditions.

    It's during storm events when Priority 1 becomes important so the most critical requests go to the top of the queue at CL&P and let them know it's important enough to break crews off of other jobs if neccessary to handle them.

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    Ron - fortunately we haven't had the situation you describe where live wires immediately effect patient removal. In auto vs. utility incidents we have been lucky to date that generally the pole snaps and hangs from the wires or the auto has continued through the pole and left the live wires on the ground behind them and we could still do our job. As you can guess I am typing with crossed-fingers hoping that this streak continues, but then again it wouldn't be the fire service if it were always that easy.

    It scares me to think of needing our power company in a hurry because of a couple of things. Number one being that the nearest dispatch yard (that I can think of) is 20 minutes away and Number two being that when we have needed them in the past for standard requests such as killing service to a dwelling, etc. we generally request them and then hope and pray they show in a while the need is still relevant. I guess we would have to hope for SANDSTROMJM's situation and have a PD unit redirect a unit that was in the area!

    One thing I have noticed is that it seems that too many people in the past have "cried wolf" in an effort to get the power company on location faster and they have realized it and take their time.

    Any advice on dealing with a situation such as the one you mentioned?

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    In my part of NJ we are serviced by JCPL (GPU, JCPL??? who can keep track of what they are called this week). Even though we have a fully staffed substation in town, we can't get a crew dispatched from there. They get dispatched from a nearby area. For all calls other than an immediate life hazard, we can expect a wait from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Our PD has the "direct access" phone numbers (that usually don't get answered as quick as they should) to report difficulties and needs for JCPL. JCPL has told us (knocking on wood since we have not had need to) that if we call them with "immediate life hazard" they will have a truck on scene within 5 minutes (probably from our local yard). Our PD is usually on scene prior to our arrival, and they handle notifying the power company.

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    let's see now. here we have to determine which electrical company's pole is involved. we have TU Electric, correction sorry it's Oncor now and we have Hill County Co-op and then maybe some third party companies. Also with all the telephone companies and cable television companies the lines could be anyones.

    At 2 o'clock in the morning during a thunderstorm all these look the same until you get closer to which you don't want to really be doing in the first place.
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    Default Timely question Ron....

    How interesting. Our County has been in a battle with one of our two electrical utilities for the past year. It started with an MVA on the other end of the county that had confirmed live wires on the vehicle with a critical patient inside. This particular utility took over an hour to get a crew on scene and the patient subsequently died while in the vehicle. The County Legislature Leader was a FF with the involved Company and raised holy hell in the media and filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission. We have yet to see a large improvement in their response time. Their call-in process takes forever (union contract mandate) and they typically respond from an adjoining county. Our County Fire Coordinator is establishing a priority system similar to those mentioned above so that we can at least qualify the urgency of the need.

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    We have a 24 hour emergency contact number that goes to a central co-ordinator. We give them the details, they despatch the necessary company. (We too have numerous companies looking after power lines, but we don't need to worry about who becasue this despatch centre does it for us.)

    Unfortunately, we have none that can get there in a hurry, unless they're escorted. (In 12 years with my dept., I've never heard or seen any being escorted.)

    When casualties are affected by the lines being down, we haven't had to worry about us, becasue in our area, the Ambulance Officers are so focused on what they're doing and so naive, they just go in and do their job anyway!
    Luke

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    We are a VFD and are lucky in that we have 5 of the power company, Rosebud Electric Company, employees as volunteers. At least 1 power company unit is automatically dispatched to every call. If they are not needed they are turned around. We have an excellent working relationship with our power company. The manager, the office staff, and all of the line crew bend over backwards to help however they can and we try to return the favor.

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    It'd be great if we had some elec.co. employees on our roster like the above.

    I know our area had some serious problems in the past with getting the elec.co to the scene.

    For getting service at the scene...
    Through the hard work of area chiefs and meetings with the elec.co, I think a lot of progress has been made. Scanners have been placed in the service trucks and trouble trucks. These monitor the departments for the areas served by the trucks. It is not uncommon for the elec.co to occasionally BEAT US TO THE SCENE! Such a change from the way it used to be. We are even pushing to provide them with radios instead of scanners so that they can talk with us and vice versa.

    For calls we determine to have a high priority, the elec.co has always been very cooperative with dumping the grid... usually within 5 to 10 minutes. Not too shabby...

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    Our entire district is provided electricity by the same company, Indian Electric Co-op. We don't have a formal priority system worked out with them, but they don't waste time getting a truck to you if it's a situation where charged lines are hampering rescue at a MVA or firefighting efforts. Problem is, we're out in the sticks, so sometimes the call crew (if it's after hours---and it always is) can be a bit removed.

    The biggest problem with have is that they cover several counties and have a centralized dispatch at night. Those poor dispatchers can't function if you can't give them a pole number. I've had more than one coversation with a dispatcher that went along the lines of:

    Me: Yes, I need a crew to disconnect electric at a house fire. (Give location)

    Dispatcher: I can't dispatch a crew if I don't have a pole number to give me a location.

    Me: I don't have a pole number, and frankly, the people on scene are a little busy right now.

    Dispatcher: I'm sorry, but I need a pole number.

    Me: Look, just call the crew on call for the area near (insert placename here), tell them to look east where the sky is glowing orange, and that's where we need them! Or, tell them it two miles south of (insert placename here) under the big black plume of smoke!

    Really, other than the after-hours dispatchers, they're great.

    We fought a nasty wildfire a couple of years ago with 12 departments over a 12 hour period. It took out a lot of power poles over a 3000 acre area. Halfway through the fire, Indian Electric actually came through the command post at an intersection setting new poles and repairing line. Those guys don't slow down for nothin'.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by Silver City 4
    Those poor dispatchers can't function if you can't give them a pole number.
    lol

    sounds like what we used to put up with!

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