by , on November 16, 2009
red background with burning question

A FOX station in Texas reports that firefighters could move downed power lines in emergencies IF they had rubber gloves on the trucks.¹

The story isn’t entirely inaccurate. There is a LOT more than rubber gloves needed for firefighters to move downed power lines.  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 before moving downed power lines safely? Our utility had 3 firefighters die once with several others who came up on a scene of a car wreck trying to “save” someone in a car with power lines on it.

Are Firefighters Qualified to Work on Electrical Equipment?

Firefighters aren’t “qualified persons” by the OSHA 1910.269 standard for high voltage and should NOT move downed power lines. 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 power lines (I don’t think so)? Are they too cheap to bring their rubber gloves and keep them tested and know when they have step potential, 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.

Please comment if you agree, disagree or have thoughts.

See our fire fighter’s electrical safety training at

¹Story can no longer be found on the web.

Hugh Hoagland
About author:
Hugh Hoagland is the foremost tester of clothing and PPE exposed to electrical arcs and is an arc flash expert. Read more about Hugh.

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