Apparatus & Equipment, Fire EMS, Firefighting

When Electricity Takes an Unexpected Path, Part 2

Issue 5 and Volume 170.

By Bill Gustin Part 1 was published in the April 2017 issue. This article examines how the theft of electricity, down power lines, and metal fences can cause electricity to take a dangerous and unexpected path. I have seen some very creative ways to steal electricity from the power company; most involve tapping into the electrical service before the meter. There have been several cases in my department’s jurisdiction where electrical thieves dug up and tapped into an underground electrical service. Their motivation is usually to supply the substantial amount of power necessary to illuminate the large array of sodium vapor lights for their marijuana “grow house” operation (photo 1).1 Firefighters in my battalion operating at a mobile home fire complained of being shocked when they contacted the trailer’s aluminum siding. How was this possible when the power had been shut off at the main circuit breaker? A close examination…

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