City Light Crews Working to Repair Damage of Mendocino Complex Fire

On August 3, 2018, Seattle City Light sent 19 employees and support equipment to California to assist in restoring the electrical infrastructure damaged by the Mendocino Complex fire. Four four-person line crews, three operators, a supervisor, a safety manager and a fleets manager departed from the South Service Center in SODO with large bucket trucks and digger derrick trucks that dig holes for setting utility poles. The crews are trained in construction methods for both transmission and distribution work.

Since August 5, these City Light crews have been working to restore power to homes and cellular phone towers impacted by the fire, which is now the largest in California history. They are working in mountainous terrain with narrow roads. Downed trees and other debris have made travel difficult at times. Working in smoky conditions, the crews have been using moistened cooling cloths as bandanas to filter out the smoke.

The crews start their day at 7:30 a.m. with a tailboard meeting that provides any updates on the fire. Next, they have a safety meeting. Then they receive their work assignments for the day, collect materials and supplies for the crew and depart from their staging area in Lakeport, California.

“We have enough personnel. We have enough equipment,” said South Field Operations Supervisor Ed Hill. “It is a godsend having a mechanic with us.” The mechanic has been able to make repairs to vehicles in the field, saving the crews time and getting them back to work faster.

Crews have been warmly received to the area. Along with signs thanking firefighters and first responders, they spotted one that said, “Thank you, linemen.”

PG&E, the local electric utility, has told the crews to plan to stay for at least four more days. They still want to make repairs in a neighborhood called Spring Valley, but that area is not yet safe to work in because of the fire.

Safeguarding Skagit: Inside the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade

City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project provides clean and efficient energy to Seattle’s customers, and its idyllic location provides spectacular, Instagram-worthy views of the North Cascades and Diablo Lake. Being nestled in such a remote location does have its advantages, but it can also provide its share of challenges when minutes count. During an emergency—whether someone has a bump or bruise during a dam tour or is involved in a serious traffic accident on the North Cascades Highway—a team of City Light employees take action, changing from their daily roles at the utility to act as members of the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade.

For almost 60 years, this mostly volunteer group of first responders has gone above and beyond their assigned work duties at City Light to safeguard the residents and property of City Light, the Skagit Project and the North Cascades National Park. Fire Brigade Chief Cody Watson explains “the brigade fights fires and provides an emergency response like a typical fire department would; there are situations that require backup.” That’s why in 2008, a specialized group called the Skagit Technical Response Team (STRT) was created to supplement the brigade and provide aid during unusual rescue situations. Like the brigade, STRT is a team of City Light employees who are trained beyond their day-to-day skills.

In 2016, the brigade was crucial to the containment of the Goodell Creek Fire, which severely threatened the Skagit Hydroelectric Project and the surrounding communities. For Watson, an emergency of any size is important because of the brigade’s local impact.

“We have helped friends, family, co-workers and strangers who are often having the worst day of their lives,” says Watson. “The brigade provides services that no one else in this geographical area can. When the fire alarm goes off, they have to switch gears and put on a different hat. We have a pretty extraordinary team up here.”

Last November, the fire brigade added a new vehicle to their fleet, a state-of-the-art ambulance. The new vehicle replaced a unit that had been in service for nearly 25 years. Watson and the brigade worked closely with the City Light Fleet and Mobile Equipment team to build a unit that meets their unique needs. Some of the unique features include snow chains that engage with a flip of a switch, a hydraulic lift and cabin airbags to protect first responders when treating a patient.

Thank you, Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade, for keeping the City Light employees and its visitors safe!

 

Experience the majestic beauty of the North Cascades next summer on a Skagit Tour. Skagit Tours provide a fun and educational experience for people of all ages. Visit https://www.seattle.gov/light/damtours/skagit.asp for more information!

Stay Fire Safe this Halloween!

Help keep you and your family fire safe this holiday weekend by following these fire safety tips:

  • Use flame-less candles or glow-sticks in jack-o-lanterns.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper can catch fire easily, keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
  • If using candles, extinguish them before leaving a room – keep kids and pets away, they can inadvertently injure themselves or knock over candles.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations – nothing should block escape routes.
  • If you or your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes,  look for ways out of the home and plan how to get out in an emergency.

Mowing scheduled in Discovery Park, other parks due to brush fire danger

Beginning, Saturday, July 11, Seattle Parks and Recreation crews will mow areas of high grass in the north and central parts of Discovery Park in Magnolia due to concerns over potential brushfires.

Unusually dry, hot weather in Seattle this summer has created potential fire hazards in parks and natural areas throughout the city.

The grass in these areas of Discovery Park has not been mowed from March 15 through mid-July to accommodate ground-nesting bird species. Because the nesting season started earlier this year due to warm weather, Seattle Parks and Recreation staff believe the birds may have completed their nesting early.

Working in consultation with the Seattle Audubon Society, Parks staff will check the area to ensure the ground nesting birds have left the area and will mow in patches to flush any remaining birds so they can move to other habitat. Only areas that present a brushfire hazard will be mowed; there will be ample space and habitat for wildlife within the park. At 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park.

“We are trying to balance care and concern for wildlife habitat with the very real threat of brush fires in these unusually warm and dry conditions,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre. “Fires in the park would pose a danger to park visitors and nearby neighborhoods and be potentially devastating to wildlife.”

“Seattle Audubon appreciates the care that Parks and Recreation is taking with this mowing, and we support the reduction of fire hazard in a way that minimally disturbs birds and other wildlife,” said Brian Windrope, Executive Director, Seattle Audubon Society. “This partnership between our staff and volunteers and Parks staff will be beneficial for birds and people!”

“Vigilant prevention is the key to keeping the visitors and local neighbors safe from the potential danger of brush fires,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins. “Due to the dry conditions, local firefighters have proactively conducted pre-fire inspections of Discovery Park. During these inspections fire crews surveyed access roads, hydrants and developed action plans in case a fire occurs inside the park. Keeping our residents and visitors safe is our top priority.”

“It is also important that each resident takes the time to clear any dead or dry brush from around their homes to break the chain if a fire does occur,” says Fire Chief Scoggins. ”Remember, fire safety is all of our responsibility!”

As a preventative measure during dry weather spells, Parks crews mow dry grass as low as possible so there’s less fuel to catch fire. In Discovery Park the mowing will include Bay Terrace in the north area of park; around and the near the historic buildings in the south central area of the park; around the perimeter of the historic Horse Barns in the central area of the park; and the lighthouse station in the far west point of the park.

In the past two weeks, at least seven small fires have burned at several Seattle parks, including one at Discovery Park near the lighthouse. Parks crews will be following similar mowing practices in two dozen other parks and natural areas in the city.

In future years, Seattle Audubon will work with Seattle Parks and Recreation to assess fire risks in parks and help the department adjust mowing plans and fire safety measures to balance the need to protect wildlife habitat and address fire danger.

Keeping young children fire safe!

Week of the Young ChildTM

April 12-18 is the 2015 Week of the Young ChildTM – an annual celebration to focus on the needs of young children.

Safety Tips for Keeping Kids Fire Safe:

  • Practice fire drills at home – teach two ways out of every room and practice crawling low under smoke to get outside to a family meeting spot.
  • Safe for play or Keep away – teach the difference between grown-up tools and children’s toys. Children should always keep away from adult tools and never touch matches or lighters.
  • Have a working smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level, including the basement.

Conduct a Home Fire Safety Check.

Preschool Programs

The Seattle Fire Department preschool programs help teachers teach students about fire safety and injury prevention.