Monthly Drill: Safety Around Electric Utility Equipment for First Responders
By Vice President / Lieutenant Scot Best
March 21, 2023

Last evening, Ridge VFD firefighters, along with members of NDWFD Co. 14, gathered for our monthly training drill; Safety Around Electric Utility Equipment for First Responders. A crew from the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative's (SMECO) Safety Department (Matt Bowes, Blaze Higgs, Jeff Raley, and Richard Combs) came to the firehouse to present on the topic. They brought their Hot Line Demonstration trailer to talk about the dangers involved in working with, and around, electricity and electrical utility equipment, and the safety equipment they use when doing so. They demonstrated how a tree limb on live wires can/will conduct electricity, how they ground the live wires for our safety on the scene, and performed their famous "hot dog" demo simulating what would happen if a human body came in contact with live wires.

Following the demo, a presentation was given that focused specifically on scene safety for first responders. Discussions included: identifying overhead power lines and electrical equipment upon arrival at an incident scene; responder safety during victim extrication from a vehicle with downed wires in contact; assuming all power lines are energized and keep yourself and your equipment AT LEAST 10 FEET AWAY; never assuming that because a downed power line isn’t sparking that it isn’t energized; never attempting to disconnect electrical service and never touch power lines; and to always contact SMECO when we encounter a scene with electrical system involvement.

We'd like to thank the SMECO Safety Department crew for volunteering their time to provide the firefighters of the First District with this life-saving information.

Hyperlinks: SMECO Safety Department
SMECO's Hot Line Demonstration trailer - video
This Might Shock You: Downed Power Line - video