Saturday, December 12, 2009

When Seconds Count: Gloves Not On Fire Trucks

EL PASO, Texas -- Aug. 8, 2008. It’s the scene of a traffic crash in which a vehicle hit a utility pole. Because of the violent crash, the driver doesn't survive. In some cases of cars hitting utility poles, emergency workers say they can’t help right away. The reason? A glove.
"You can never trust electricity. It might look like it's off," said Dorothy Baca of El Paso Electric.
Protective rubber gloves safely allow crews to move live wires. But they're never on fire trucks. So for some crashed involving electricity, time ticks until the electric company gets there.
Should fire fighters move powerlines?
This FOX station reports that fire fighters could move downed power lines in emergencies IF they had rubber gloves on the trucks. There is a LOT more than rubber gloves needed for firefighters to move downed powerlines. The story isn’t entirely inaccurate. Why not suggest hot sticks on each truck rather than just rubber gloves? What about step potential and a lot of other training most fire fighters would need to move downed powerlines safety. Our utility had 3 fire fighters die once with several other who came up on a scene of a car wreck trying to “save” someone in a car with powerlines on it.
Fire fighters aren’t “qualified persons” by the OSHA 1910.269 standard for high voltage and should NOT move downed powerlines. Not that some couldn’t be trained to do so but I’m not a big fan of this practice. The story makes the fire department sound cheap. How about having the news reporters move the powerlines (I don’t think so)? Are they too cheap to bring their rubber gloves and keep them tested and know when they have step potental and etc? The story sounds like everyone has part of the story but this one isn’t fair and balanced. El Paso Electric is right. This is job for the utility.

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