Fire, electric departments working together
This past week the Russellville Fire Department teamed up with the Russellville Electric Department for three days of classes focusing on safety procedures to follow in the event of an electrical emergency.
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said the fire department is often faced with situations where electricity is a factor.
“We may be working a wreck where there are downed power lines in the road or on top of cars or we could be working a structural fire where electricity was a factor,” Mansell said. “There are several situations where further knowledge would be very beneficial to our department.”
Mansell said firefighters who go through rookie training receive one to two days of basic knowledge on how to handle situations involving electricity, but firsthand knowledge gained from the local people who work with it on a daily basis is an invaluable training tool.
“In rookie school, everything is sort of thrown at you all at once,” Mansell said. “With these classes, the information was spread out over a three-day period and it was very specific to what we would be dealing with here in the city.”
Mansell said he had been working with Steve DeFoor, chief executive officer of Russellville Electric, and Craig Grissom, manager of Russellville Electric, for a few months to make the class possible.
“We really appreciate these guys taking the time to help us be more prepared for things we might face on the job,” he said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the electric department and they’ve always been supportive of us.”
Grissom said when Mansell approached them about conducting a few classes, the electric department was more than glad to help out.
“It’s important for our departments to have a good working relationship because we have to work together on so many different things,” Grissom said. “Besides us conducting these classes, we’ve been able to establish some plans and procedures for structure fires where the electricity needs to be shut off or how to get up with us if there is a power line down, so this has been beneficial for us as well.”
Joes said communication between the two departments is crucial, especially when structural fires are involved.
“Several weeks ago we had a structure fire outside the city and when we’re crawling around in the smoke and under the floor, all it would take is one touch of a live wire to kill one of our guys,” he said.
Grissom agreed that they don’t refer to electricity as an “unseen force” for no reason.
“Electricity just sits there going unnoticed until you touch it and a lot of times it’s too late at that point,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons it’s so dangerous and why it’s important to be properly informed.”
One of the components of the classes was to show he firefighters the different types of lines in the city, the voltage, and the differences in power lines, cable lines and phone lines.
“This was really good knowledge for us to have because it’s something most of us didn’t know,” Firefighter Jody Hitt said. “But even though we could probably tell the difference in the lines now, they really stressed the point that the best thing to do involving a downed power line is to stay away from it.”
Jerry Sutton, with the Russellville Electric Department, said the reason they teach people to just stay away from a downed power line is because it may not always be safe.
“People just automatically assume that if a power line is down that it doesn’t have any power running to it but that’s not always the case,” Sutton said. “All it would take is one touch and you probably wouldn’t have a second chance to try it again.”
“There were so many different things we didn’t know before these classes and I think our department is better off for having took this training,” Mansell said. “Continual training and knowledge can only make you better as a department and we appreciate Russellville Electric for helping us with that.”