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  1. #1
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    Default fiberglass vs. wood handles

    looking for some help. Recently we had one of our ff go down at a working house fire. R.I.T. team removed ff to safety. The ff struck some wires with his axe while pulling the ceiling. Their are many variables that played into this. The question that I need help with, is there any data out their that supports which is better, fiberglass with rubber handles versus wood on pike poles and axes when it comes to dealing with electricity. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks


  2. #2
    IACOJ BOD FlyingKiwi's Avatar
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    Neither will make a blind bit of difference if the FF and axe are wet from water spray. Electricity just loves water, and if you are wearing it, your eyes will light up.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

  3. #3
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    that is why some depts will try to cut the power before sending a team in.
    "Let's Roll." Todd Beamer 9/11 first soldier in the war on terror

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    There is no such thing as an absolute insulator. Fiberglas and the like function as insulators in the lab. However, in the real world of fire fighting, things get wet, oily and dirty. These foreign materials negate much of the insulating properties. Utility cos. use fiberglas "hot sticks". These sticks are kept in clean bags, inspected frequently and are used a limited number of times before they undergo an indepth inspection. I would think outside the box and check with the safety guys at your local power utility to see what their research shows. I would also search Firedocs for relevant research.

    I am interested in the details of the incident and the FF injuries. What type of wires did he hit? How did he hit them? What were his injuries? What was the treatment? Was he actually injured, or just scared? What did the investigation reveal as the proximate cause of the incident?

  5. #5
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    We usually try to pull the meter before an interior attack--

    Was he pulling the ceiling as part of overhaul or were they trying to find the fire?
    "When you are safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure-when you're having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home"

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  6. #6
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    Originally posted by jatkins7011
    We usually try to pull the meter before an interior attack--

    Was he pulling the ceiling as part of overhaul or were they trying to find the fire?
    Here we go again...

    YOU PUT YOURSELF IN FAR MORE DANGER PULLING THE METER THAN YOU DO FIGHTING THE FIRE WITH THE POWER ON! LEAVE THE METER ALONE!

  7. #7
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    YOU PUT YOURSELF IN FAR MORE DANGER PULLING THE METER THAN YOU DO FIGHTING THE FIRE WITH THE POWER ON! LEAVE THE METER ALONE!
    I'm gonna agree with George on this one. We will not pull a meter. That's for the Utility company to do. We will kill the main power at the box, but that's about it.

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    Forum Member 33motor's Avatar
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    That's for the Utility company to do. We will kill the main power at the box, but that's about it.
    Ditto! Our Truck Co's cut the main & shut off gas. The electric Co. monitors FD radio's, as well as gets sent by dispatch to all working structures.
    http://www.sanantoniofire.org

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  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber E229Lt's Avatar
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    Dare I say: I agree with George

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    Dammit Lou, you gotta warn me, dude. I just spit my corn flakes all over my laptop. Plus, I think I just saw a pig fky by my window.

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    Forum Member Lewiston2FF's Avatar
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    Well George, I guess when you are right you should expect most of us on here to agree with you, including the Lt.
    Here we call for the local utility to shut off power, it may take them some time to get to it, but electricity is their bill, we handle fire.
    Shawn M. Cecula
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    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

  12. #12
    IACOJ BOD FlyingKiwi's Avatar
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    Hey George

    Is that what they call a flakey computer?
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.

  13. #13
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    Let me preface this by stateing I have done no scientific study, but am basing this theory upon my experience wotking with electricty:


    In theory, fiberglass should be much better than wood. With a fiberglass handle, the only conducter is the water that is running in a thin sheet over the handle, and if it in not running over there will be only a very thin sheen, and it will quickly "break up" and be a poor conductor. It will only have whatever dirt you picked up that day to mix with (you do clean your tools, right?)

    Wood, however, is another story. Water soaks into the wood, meaning not only the surface water is a conductor, but also the wet wood itself, which will be a mixture of water, wood, grease, soot, and whatever else has worked its way into the wood over the years. This "witches brew" is going to conduct electricity much better, and the whole handle is going to become one big conducter, instead of just the thin sheen of water flowing over the fibergalss handle.

    The thin sheen of water on a fiberglass handle will not be enough to conduct a lot of current, and I would suspect not nearly enough to cause a lot of injury to the holder. Thw wet wood handle, however, is another matter.

    Fiberglass will always be an insulater, only the water running over it can conduct electricty. Wood is a decent insulator only when dry, once wet is loses most of its insulating ability and become a fair conductor. Wet fiberglass will dry very fast, and rarely will a continous stretch of water exist between the head and ones hands unless it is being sprayed. Once wet wood stays wet, and as the water soaks in loses more and more of its insulating ability.

    Just theory, but my .02. If anyone is interested I could conduct some simple tests with a multimeter and some wet wood and fiberglass handles to see what is the better conducter, but I bet my theory holds up. But to see what I mean about it staying wet, spray a fiberglass handle, then hold it up for 10 seconds, and see how much water remains continious between your hands and the head, not a lot. Do the same with wood and it stays wet all over.

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by radioguy
    Let me preface this by stateing I have done no scientific study, but am basing this theory upon my experience wotking with electricty:


    In theory, fiberglass should be much better than wood. With a fiberglass handle, the only conducter is the water that is running in a thin sheet over the handle, and if it in not running over there will be only a very thin sheen, and it will quickly "break up" and be a poor conductor. It will only have whatever dirt you picked up that day to mix with (you do clean your tools, right?)

    Wood, however, is another story. Water soaks into the wood, meaning not only the surface water is a conductor, but also the wet wood itself, which will be a mixture of water, wood, grease, soot, and whatever else has worked its way into the wood over the years. This "witches brew" is going to conduct electricity much better, and the whole handle is going to become one big conducter, instead of just the thin sheen of water flowing over the fibergalss handle.

    The thin sheen of water on a fiberglass handle will not be enough to conduct a lot of current, and I would suspect not nearly enough to cause a lot of injury to the holder. Thw wet wood handle, however, is another matter.

    Fiberglass will always be an insulater, only the water running over it can conduct electricty. Wood is a decent insulator only when dry, once wet is loses most of its insulating ability and become a fair conductor. Wet fiberglass will dry very fast, and rarely will a continous stretch of water exist between the head and ones hands unless it is being sprayed. Once wet wood stays wet, and as the water soaks in loses more and more of its insulating ability.

    Just theory, but my .02. If anyone is interested I could conduct some simple tests with a multimeter and some wet wood and fiberglass handles to see what is the better conducter, but I bet my theory holds up. But to see what I mean about it staying wet, spray a fiberglass handle, then hold it up for 10 seconds, and see how much water remains continious between your hands and the head, not a lot. Do the same with wood and it stays wet all over.
    Your theory is sound with pure, sterile fiberglass in a lab. In the real world, there are plenty of contaminants on the fiberglass handle to make it a conductor, true, not as good as wood, but good enough where I wouldn't want to take a chance with it.

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