On a very recent stormy night in the Pacific Northwest our department had been busy for our area. Trees into wires and homes. Lines down….the typical responses for windy nights. On one such call we had responded to wires down, acrossed the roadway. Upon arrival the street was dark and power was out in the area. It was raining very hard and we had winds around 50+ mph. Very hard to see while driving. The engine operator had a tough time seeing the roadway and we accidentally ran over the lines that were down. We noticed a resident of the neighborhood who was approaching the wires and we told him to keep back and we backed our engine up and set-up scene control. We had blocked off the roadway with cones and flares until the power company could get there and shut off the power to the lines. As I was laying out flares and cones, the engine operator was setting up scene lighting and our acting officer was talking with residents who were trying to get by the lines. At this time I noticed that the officer had jumped over the lines to get to where the residents were. A few minutes later I noticed that the power company had shown up and took control of the power lines at which time they advised us that these particular lines were 7600 volts. That could make for a very painful evening. After the power was secured the power company told us that the area we were in was completely out. (No power) So we got lucky!! Not only was our officer walking over the lines but all three of us were walking within a couple feet of this line.
Espescially during stormy night when power is out to your first due area be aware of your surroundings. Stay away from ANY line that is down no matter if it is cable or power you cannot take a chance. It would be a very big risk. For these type of calls it is outside of our scope of practice. We are there strictly to make sure nobody goes near the lines and nothing more. If anything call for law enforcemnt and have them close off the street so you can move onto the next call. Remember the basics…firefighter safety first and foremost. We are not much use if we get injured by our complacency.