Basic Forest Fire Suppression Course - Online Lessons


6.1 Power Line Safety

During fire suppression activity Safety is the number one Priority, always!

Safety is the underlying theme for all of the information in this course, however this section will involve personal safety related to individuals or crews on the fire line.

Power Line Safety

When working around any power lines extra care is essential. Fires can start in the vicinity of charged lines either by direct contact with vegetation or possibly damaged power line equipment. If you are in close proximity to a downed line treat it as if it were charged, move away from the effected area and contact Nova Scotia Power Inc. Once NSPI has inspected the site, permission will then be given to resume activities after safety concerns are addressed. No work will take place until Nova Scotia Power has given you permission.

If you have been caught in an area where a line has just come down, use the following procedure:

  • The preferred method of removing yourself from the affected area is to shuffle your feet together, but not separated. If you fall, you risk the possibility of contact with energized ground that has uneven current distribution and as result will provide two points of entry that could be fatal.
  • Leave the area immediately by hopping with both feet close together. If this method is chosen, you must take small hops to be sure that you keep your balance. If you fall, it could be fatal.
  • Move away to a distance of 20 meters or greater.

Heavy smoke particulate can act as a conductor which can result in an electrical charge reaching the ground. This is possible when burning conditions are not complete (large amount of smoldering material, slash fire. Or an abundance of green material on a low humidity day) which means that there will be a lot of heavy smoke lingering in the area. Be very cautious under power lines.

Avoid contact of power lines with water or foam. Water is a good conductor of electricity and under no circumstances should it be sprayed towards a charged power line. If a person trips and falls while handling a hose line, it is possible that the spray may come in contact with the power line and an injury could result. Be very sure of your footing under a power line.

Trees or equipment that have come in contact with energized lines will be energized themselves and must be avoided. If equipment makes contact and the operator is uninjured after the initial contact, it is recommended that they remain seated until Nova Scotia Power deactivates the line. If the equipment starts to burn, and the operator must exit, jump out and make contact with both feet together on the ground. Do not turn around and touch the equipment. This will provide two points of entry and an uneven current distribution, which could result in serious injury or death. Once clear of the equipment, move away by shuffling your feet or hopping with both feet together.

Inform your immediate supervisor and make everyone aware of a downed power line. Ribbon or mark the area , and post a look out as well.