I am a Lt. on an engine company in Palm Beach County. We have a 3 person engine and 3 person ALS ambulance that we call a rescue. We, engine company and rescue truck, were initially called to a car crash. While en route, dispatch advised us that it was now a car fire. My crew wears full bunker for car crashes. We donned our SCBA’s in addition to our gear. We received no additional information from dispatch. When we arrived, PD had the street blocked off. There was a car on its side fully involved with fire. The rescue was in front of the engine. They continued past the car fire to the other PD officer blocking traffic. This was an early morning call, approx. 04:00 hours, so the rescue was assisting to block the street with the PD. They did not know it at the time, but they drove over wires as they went past the scene. As I arrived, I noticed wires down and advised the engine to stop and for the Rescue to stand by. I made sure there were no wires on my side, got out and did a quick size up. PD told us there was no one inside the vehicle. It did appear that the vehicle was empty, and if not, there would be no chance of rescue. Our engine was a little too close to the wires. I told our dispatch to confirm that they had the power company coming and told all crews to stand by. I advised my driver to back the engine up and clear the wires. She had the fire fighter get out to spot her. We all practice this on a regular basis. When he got out, he had his mask in place and limited visibility due to the fogging in the mask. He appeared to step on wires as he progressed to spot the engine. I screamed that he was on wires and to clear away. He cleared away from the down lines. After backing the engine, I talked to my crew regarding the incident. After the power company came, they secured the line. We waited for the power crew to touch the line, then, we extinguished the fire. There were no further problems with the call. My crew and I as their officer learned a great deal and thank God, no one was hurt.
1) Always do a complete size up and no one goes until the scene is secure.
2) DO NOT wear your face piece until you are ready to enter the hazardous environment.
3) Do not walk in close proximity to down wires.
According to the power company, you do not know the status of the wires. They can be energized even when they appear to not be. They can also be RE-energized while you are in close proximity. The voltage can be so much that ground gradient can shock you even when you are NOT touching the wires. Also, they can jump around when energized and touch anything in close proximity.
4) Do not drive close to or over wires for the same reason.