Line presentation aims to spark interest in safety

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

Volunteer firefighters, county workers, energy company employeesand law enforcement officers were among more than 100 people whoattended a high-energy presentation about the merits of power linesafety Thursday evening.

Training supervisors with Pike Electric Company of NorthCarolina, which contracts with event sponsor Magnolia ElectricPower Assoication, conducted the safety demonstrations from theback of a live line demonstration unit. The live line unit is aflatbed commercial truck that has been modified to include atransformer that provides high voltage to a power line stretchedbetween two poles on the truck.

Demonstrations conducted by the training supervisors showed thedangers of handling live power lines downed during automobileaccidents and the dangers emergency rescue teams face when linesare downed during a storm.

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The training also provided information on how emergency teams,as well as parents and children, can protect themselves during astorm and included safety training on flying kites, carryingaluminum ladders, fallen limbs and trees and other potentialsituations that could pose a danger to rescuers and storm cleanupcrews.

Brad Mercier, a firefighter with the Bogue Chitto Volunteer FireDepartment, said the most important lesson he learned was quitesimple to put into practice.

“It will kill you and the best thing to do is stay away from it.Call the experts,” he said.

Keith Beard, an East Lincoln VFD firefighter, agreed.

“(The demonstration) was very enlightening. It showed us whatcan happen with the stuff we deal with. It was really good of thecompany to do this,” he said.

Pike Electric Training Supervisor Sammy Goad verballyestablished situations attendees may encounter while Mark Hollandsand Bo Mills set up the truck to meet the situation. Hollands andMills would then demonstrate the correct way to prepare the scenefor electrical work and what would happen should the situationunfold incorrectly, which often resulted in shocking or settingfire to various props when they came in contact with the powerline.

To provide even more realism, Goad said the truck was groundedand tapped directly into the power line on site to power thedemonstration.

“That means the 7,100 volts we’re using for this demonstrationwould be the same 7,100 volts you would come into contact withworking on the power lines here,” Goad said.

The live line demonstration unit will be at the Pike CountyFairgrounds today at 6:30 p.m. for another demonstration. Thetraining is open to the public.