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    Default Cable vs. Telephone Wire

    11111111111111111111111111111111111111
    Last edited by emsff32515; 03-12-2008 at 01:22 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emsff32515 View Post
    Perhaps a dumb question here, but how can you tell if a downed wire is a telephone line or a cable line? I know the top lines on a pole are electric and the lower ones are the cable/telephone, but how do you distinguish between these 2?
    If there is a cop jumping up and down screaming and holding the cable, it's electric.

    If the cop is just holding the cable, it's cable tv.
    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."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    The best training you can get is free. Contact your local utilities and have the come out and teach you about their systems and equipment.
    Jason Brooks
    IAFF Local 2388
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    It may not be possible to tell. Why do you care? Unless the phone/cable line has become energized because an electrical wire has fallen across it, it doesn't pose much of a safety hazard.

    Most cable TV wiring is hardline coax. Somtimes it's unsheathed (i.e., silver on the outside) sometimes it is and may have a "armored" appearance to it. It's usually pretty stiff and maintains shape when you bend it. About an inch thick.
    You can usually find amplifiers and taps (metal boxes) where junctions are made using threaded fittings.

    Telephone cable is usually always black and comes in various thicknesses, it doesn't hold it's shape if bent. It's usually run into cylindrical splicing points with the absence of fittings.

    If it's cut open, the cable wire is essentially a center wire wrapped with plastic and then an outer shield. Just like the one on your TV only bigger.
    A telephone cable has lots of little multicolored wires inside.

    Common practice here is that electrical up high, then telephone, then cable.

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    We kinda try living by the idea that all wires are dangerous until the electric company tells us otherwise. We get rather good yet rater boring training by our local utility. Some interesting cases presented of obvious stupidity and others not so obvious. One that has particular relevance to this topic is of a cop who decided to move a cable line out of the road that got knocked down by some trees. Too bad for the cop that further up the road that cable line was in contact with the electric lines from an MVA. Didnt turn out too good, lets just say he wont be working EVER again.
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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    To me, I consider everything possible electric unless I see it go into the house, and whatkind of box it uses to go into it...we all know what phone and cable hookups on houses look like....

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    The other day someone made a wires down call and it was a telephone line that had fallen over the roadway. there were bystanders outside. Someone (perhaps a firefighting someone) walked up, grabbed the line with both hadns and started screaming bloody murder. The bystanders were greatly affected.

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    Consider everything electric until the power company tells u otherwise. Wires can be touching some else down the road or it could be an old single phase service which means the lower wire is actually power. The power guys have voltage rates gloves and tools, we sit in the truck and protect the area it might take longer but "Omnis Cedo Domus"

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    Quote Originally Posted by efd1524 View Post
    Consider everything electric until the power company tells u otherwise. Wires can be touching some else down the road or it could be an old single phase service which means the lower wire is actually power. The power guys have voltage rates gloves and tools, we sit in the truck and protect the area it might take longer but "Omnis Cedo Domus"
    It's insulated and connected by exagas(sp?) It's a phone line.

    It could be old service unless you don't have that stuff in your territory, anymore.

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    There is always that small chance that even though it is a phone line or cable line, that somewhere it has crosses a live power line and energized. While the chance is small and remote, it is still possible. Let the guys who get paid to deal with the utilities make that call. I don't wan't to call any of my guys wives or the Chief to explain that I zapped one of them. And yes, I have moved phone lines myself before, it is just one more way to CYA.
    Jason Brooks
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrescue View Post
    There is always that small chance that even though it is a phone line or cable line, that somewhere it has crosses a live power line and energized. While the chance is small and remote, it is still possible. Let the guys who get paid to deal with the utilities make that call. I don't wan't to call any of my guys wives or the Chief to explain that I zapped one of them. And yes, I have moved phone lines myself before, it is just one more way to CYA.
    If dry rubber is conducting electricity, we're all screwed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny46 View Post
    If dry rubber is conducting electricity, we're all screwed.
    Silly me to think that rubber couldn't possibly degrade in the open weather. I live in Northeast Ohio, due to the salt we get all sorts of interesting things happening to above ground lines.
    Jason Brooks
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    Some of the above are good posts. We use AC Hotsticks. That way you know.

    http://www.hotstickusa.com/

    All of the ladder companies have them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geinandputitout View Post
    Some of the above are good posts. We use AC Hotsticks. That way you know.

    http://www.hotstickusa.com/

    All of the ladder companies have them.
    Do you find them completely reliable?

    A salesman came by with one, and we could not get it to work consistently on known energized lines around the hall. I never did hear back from him as to what the problem was (i.e. low batteries, cable shielding, etc.)
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrescue View Post
    Silly me to think that rubber couldn't possibly degrade in the open weather. I live in Northeast Ohio, due to the salt we get all sorts of interesting things happening to above ground lines.
    Then you're dealing with the insulation for every wire in the bundle, plus the fact that it's not capable of carrying much of a current to speak of. I don't know of any telephone workers who worry about this, and it's easy to look around and see the lay of the land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcaldwell View Post
    Do you find them completely reliable?

    A salesman came by with one, and we could not get it to work consistently on known energized lines around the hall. I never did hear back from him as to what the problem was (i.e. low batteries, cable shielding, etc.)
    We have not had any problems with ours. We regularly change the batteries, store them in the sleeve, and have found them to be quite useful.

    I have used them on downed power lines, vehicles in the power lines, isolating faulty circuits when investigating "hot smells", and in the US&R environment in a variety of collapsed structures of varying construction methods.

    I have yet to be electrocuted, so I guess that counts for something.

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    Any wire on the ground or hanging from a pole must be considered to be live. Telephone and cable TV wires may be entangled with electric wires and must also be treated as live.
    Source: http://www.pseg.com/customer/home/safety/lines.jsp

    You may not be able to tell the difference between a telephone line, television cable line or an electrical line. Consider all of them as being energized, stay away and call for help.
    Source: http://kcpl.com/storm/storm_lines.html

    SUMMARY

    On November 3, 1999, an 18-year-old male, volunteer fire fighter was electrocuted after responding to a call involving a brush fire located in a utility easement. A Captain from the fire department was the first to arrive on the scene and was unable to see any downed power lines during his initial size-up. Approximately 2 minutes after the Captainís initial size-up, a Lieutenant and a fire fighter arrived in their privately owned vehicles (POVs). At approximately the same time, the victim arrived with the Assistant Chief in Brush Truck 911, followed by the Chief in Engine 912. The victim, the Chief, the Captain, the Lieutenant, and a fire fighter proceeded to the utility easement. They noted a tree had fallen and was leaning against the overhead power lines but did not see any downed lines. They found a small patch of smoldering debris between the base of an oak tree and woody bush. The victim, standing approximately 2 feet from the oak tree, was directed by the Chief to stomp out the embers in the smoldering brush. The victim came into contact with a downed, single-phase, 7,200-volt power line when he stepped on the smoldering pile. He first screamed and then fell to the ground. Fire fighters radioed dispatch for an ambulance. Approximately 4 minutes later, the other fire fighters were able to remove him from the line with a pike pole. They began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) just as the ambulance arrived on the scene. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:

    ensure that fire fighters are kept away from downed power lines at a distance equal to at least one span between poles until the line is de-energized

    ensure that fire fighters always do the following when they encounter downed power lines: assume that all lines are energized, call for the power provider to respond, and control the scene

    establish, implement, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) that address fire fighter safety when working near downed power lines

    ensure protective shields, barriers, or alerting techniques are used to protect fire fighters from contacting energized electrical conductors

    ensure fire fighters are aware of the hazards when working around energized parts or equipment
    Source: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face9946.html


    It's your life - grab what you want to. But speaking as someone who has worked for a major electric utility for 14 years and been involved with Fire & EMS for 18 years - I'm not touching ANY wire on the ground until a Utility Employee has touched it bare handed (and lived) - period.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geinandputitout View Post
    Some of the above are good posts. We use AC Hotsticks. That way you know.

    http://www.hotstickusa.com/

    All of the ladder companies have them.
    We use these as well, but I have heard that by the time you realize you have an active line, its too late for you - Actually I dont think we have ever pulled them out at a lines down call -

    Does anyone rely on these?

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