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Downed power lines: Don't become part of the problem

While fire departments vary in their readiness to handle electrical emergencies, it's always important to be vigilant (and patient) on these incidents


Editor's note: With the recent story of live wires striking a Massachussettes fire truck with a firefighter still inside, FR1 Editorial Advisor Chief Adam K. Thiel gives his expert take on just how dangerous these incidents can be. 

Despite the time it took for the electric utility to arrive and de-energize the fallen power lines, the fire department crew was patient (although surely frustrated) and didn't try to do anything that might have put them in (further) danger.

I've been in this business just long enough to remember when we "pulled" meters and learned to use ropes and hooks to remove downed wires.

I've also been on the job long enough to see utility workers injured or killed doing things they were extensively trained and properly equipped to perform.

While fire departments vary in their readiness to handle electrical emergencies, it's always important to be vigilant (and patient) on these incidents; doing a complete size-up and ongoing risk-benefit analysis will help keep you, and your crew members, from becoming part of the problem.

Stay safe!

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