Seattle City Light and Seattle Fire Department Partner to Address Network Vault Fires

Credit: K. Kennedy

 

At an event and demonstration today with the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the first-in-the-nation partnership today between Seattle City Light and the Seattle Fire Department to more effectively fight fires in underground electrical vaults.

“Seattle has always been at the leading edge, and thanks to this innovative partnership, Seattle is now at the leading edge of fighting fires that are a danger to the public, our infrastructure, and our economy,” said Mayor Durkan during a demonstration of the new approach at City Light’s North Service Center. “This is the kind of collaboration and innovation we need as we work to deliver essential services, protect the public, and provide reliable electricity that powers Seattle. I am grateful to the men and women of the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle City Light who have made this vision for partnership a reality and who put themselves in harm’s way to limit the impact of these dangerous fires.”

The event included members of the Vault Response Team, which is comprised of specially trained Seattle Firefighters as well as executive members from both departments and other advocates of this partnership.

Last month, SFD Chief Harold Scoggins and City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs reached an agreement to solidify the partnership between the two departments and the Vault Response Team. The 48 members of the Vault Response Team will be continually trained to safely address the public safety needs resulting from network vault fire incidents. City Light will provide specialized supplies and equipment to treat these fires along with updated intel on City Light’s network maps.

Fire Chief Harold Scoggins praised the partnership for its innovation and what it means for other departments across the country.

“Vault fires create dangerous situations in confined spaces. Before this team was created, standard procedure was to keep the area clear and wait for the fire to burn itself out. This partnership, which takes an offensive approach, is a major advancement in our field and is an example that other energy providers and fire departments want to learn from. We are proud and thankful to have this vital resource here in Seattle.”

Electrical vault fires can be caused by something as simple as a cigarette butt landing on a pile of dried leaves or as critical as an arc flash created during maintenance. Their impact is costly and can be dangerous to the public and the firefighters extinguishing them. Within an instant, the pressure of a vault fire can launch a 300-pound utility cover up to three stories. To further complicate matters, these fires may cause large-scale power outages.

The fire department and City Light are deploying a new technology that can effectively and efficiently extinguish vault fires. With a financial contribution from City Light, the fire department revived an older truck that was scheduled for decommission to address these kinds of fires.

Armed with carbon dioxide canisters, Seattle firefighters can now remove the utility hole cover, insert a metal wand and inject the vault with carbon dioxide while covering the opening with a fire-resistant tarp. This removes the oxygen from the area, snuffing the fire by robbing it of oxygen. It is an offensive approach that keeps the fire from spreading throughout the entire vault system. Once the fire is out and the vault is cleared of smoke and carbon dioxide, City Light can de-energize electrical equipment, making the area safe for crews to begin repairs.

“This partnership enhances the safety of our both departments’ employees. We are exchanging information on safety practices and institutional knowledge while training together to ensure that these fires are extinguished safely and efficiently,” Baggs said. “Not only will this process reduce the amount of damage from these fires, but it can also greatly reduce the repair and outage time. This partnership is an insurance policy for our customers, the economic drivers in Seattle’s business core and for the public servants who address these fires.”

This technology reduces the potentially disastrous effect of these kinds of fires. While this method is crucial, the partnership between the fire department and City Light is the key ingredient to ensure its success. For Seattle Fire Captain Chris Greene, the technology behind extinguishing these fires is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

“There are a variety of great products available to handle high-voltage emergencies, but without a partnership, fire departments and utilities are missing a key component,” explains Greene. “CO2 and other chemical extinguishers are in fact effective, but it’s an engineered solution to a problem that can have significant impacts. The true solution is a foundational relationship with the energy provider like City Light that builds long before a fire begins.”

How to Stay Safe and Warm During a Winter Power Outage

Here we go again…

This weekend’s windy, snowy and yes, even stormy weather could cause short and long-term outages in our area.

When outages occur, City Light’s response prioritizes life safety first, followed by emergency services and then by repairs which will bring the largest number of customers back into service.

In the event of widespread outages, repairs can take hours, and significant events can take even days.

Here are some tips to help you be prepared and stay safe during a winter outage:

 

  • Report the Outage – If you experience an outage, please report it by calling City Light’s Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

 

  • Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged, and you have a phone charger ready. It’s a good idea to keep external batteries charged too.

 

  • Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000.

 

  • Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.

 

  • Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members if you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit www.takewinterbystorm.org.

 

  • Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.

 

  • Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer is safe for up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.

 

  • Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits include computers and televisions.

 

  • Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.

 

  • Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.

 

  • Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.

 

  • Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.

 

  • Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.

 

If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000.

Don’t forget to visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following us on  Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on how to prepare for this winter’s weather, visit takewinterbystorm.org/.

How to Stay Safe and Warm During a Winter Power Outage

In case you haven’t heard, the National Weather Service predicts that the Puget Sound is in for a heavy dose of winter weather this weekend. With a chance of our region experiencing frozen fractals all around, now is the time to prepare in case your neighborhood experiences a power outage.

When outages occur, City Light’s response prioritizes life safety first, followed by emergency services and then by repairs which will bring the largest number of customers back into service.

In the event of widespread outages, repairs can take hours, and significant events can take even days. Here are some tips to help you be prepared and stay safe during a winter outage:

 

  • Report the Outage – If you experience an outage, please report it by calling City Light’s Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

 

  • Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged, and you have a phone charger ready. It’s a good idea to keep external batteries charged too.

 

  • Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

 

  • Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.

 

  • Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members if you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.

 

  • Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.

 

  • Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer is safe for up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.

 

  • Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits include computers and televisions.

 

  • Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.

 

  • Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.

 

  • Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.

 

  • Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.

 

  • Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.

 

If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000.

Don’t forget to visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following us on  Twitter and Facebook.

For more information on how to prepare for this winter’s weather, visit takewinterbystorm.org/.

Power Outage Affecting 5,300 Customers in Parts of Laurelhurst, Windermere, and Ravenna

Seattle City Light  crews are working to restore power to about 5,300 customers in parts of Laurelhurst, Windermere, and Ravenna. The outage started at 11 p.m. and its cause is currently unknown.  An early estimate for restoration, based on historical data, is 2 a.m. Monday, January 22. Customers can get updated outage information at www.seattle.gov/light/sysstat.