CLOSE CALL FOR FIREFIGHTER

KNOTTS ISLAND – On Wednesday August 10, the fire department was dispatched to a report of power lines torn by a truck or trailer, and that they were laying on the vehicle. The first-due units discovered that a mobile home had caught a cable television fiber line. The line had torn through the roof area and become stuck. First arriving units also noted noted that a utility pole (far right in photo 1) had been split when the tension pulled the bolt holding the cable through the pole (shown in photo 2). The scene was secured and the road was closed by fire, EMS, and law enforcement units. A power company supervisor was dispatched to aid in opening the road, which is the only access to the island as the ferry was out of service until the end of the month. Upon arrival of the power company supervisor, he made the decision to clear the television line by cutting it and removing it from the truck. At this time, the scene was re-assessed to be sure all civilians and non-emergency personnel were clear of the line before it was cut. The power company supervisor took up position “B” (shown in photo 3) to cut the cable attached to poles “A” and “E”. Firefighter Morrison was in position “D” in a low and ready position in case the power supervisor became entangled or was hit by a swinging cable. The cable was cut and the resulting tension released on poles “A” and “E” was enough to pull the top of pole “C” to the ground and break the wires from pole “E.” The guy wire on pole “C” prevented the wires from hitting the power supervisor, but pulled them directly down on top of Firefighter Scott Morrison. The wires struck Firefighter Morrison’s helmet and tossed it about 20 feet into the road. The wires then hit his right shoulder and head, effectively knocking him to the ground. Photo 4 shows the aftermath and references the positions of personnel and poles shown in photo 3. Firefighter Morrison was immediately assisted by the power supervisor and emergency workers. He was assessed at the scene and released. The incident could have been a lot worse and the severity was minimized a number of ways. First and foremost was Firefighter Morrison’s use of personal protective equipment. Had he not been wearing his helmet, the wires and their significant weight could have decapitated him. Second, even though he was standing clear of both the pole and the utility line being cut, the tension was great enough to release significant energy as to drop the pole and break wires free from another. Third, the electrical wires on the pole were already de-energized due to another truck/wire accident that occurred about eight miles up the same road at the same time. Firefighter Morrison suffered only scrapes, bruises, and a lump on the back of the head. He likens the experience to being blind-sided by a Louisville Slugger in the back of the head.