Delran Fire District #1


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Working together with our Utility Company!
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By Deputy Chief of Fire Operations Kevin Peak
March 29, 2023

As you may already know by now, the Delran Fire Department, along with other departments and companies in Burlington County respond to a multitude of different types of calls. There are times however where we may not be able to fully handle the incident alone and will need the help of more experienced personnel that falls within the scope of the incident. PSE&G (Public Service Electric & Gas) is one of our utility companies that we work closely with on different incidents. These calls of service include but are not limited to downed wires, live wires, accidents involving utility poles, carbon monoxide alarm systems, appliance fires, natural gas leaks and also large structure fires. These incidents at times may require job specific utility workers.

Downed wires, live wires and accidents or incidents involving live wires require electric to be shut off as soon as possible. Sadly, this can’t be done with a “flick of a switch”, so we contact PSE&G to come out to the scene and deem what needs to be shut down and where it needs to be secured. There are times that this can be done over the phone by the PSE&G employee calling and having a grid or a section of grid shut down remotely so that work can be done. This is very important especially on motor vehicle accidents that involve live wires. While we can’t go up to the vehicle until its confirmed that the electric is secured, we are still able to assist the occupant(s) and instruct them not to move or try to exit their vehicle. Your vehicle is grounded by the rubber wheels touching the ground. If you try to exit the car, injuries (sometimes fatal) may result in completing a circuit with your foot on the ground and touching the vehicle. Always treat downed wires as if they are live! Never go near these types of issues and call 9-1-1 right away!

Carbon monoxide (CO) if you didn’t know is a colorless and odorless gas that can result from a stoves, HVAC system, batteries on charge, sump pump battery backups, vehicles running in or near an open doorway or garage, etc. While we have meters that can pick up this gas and let us know if the atmosphere in your house or building is safe, we may not be able to always narrow down the source if this gas is present. Again, PSE&G are asked to respond out and we assist them with ventilation of the structure and helping to narrow down a cause so that the homeowner or business owner will know the next steps, if any are needed. Its reminded that you should have a CO monitor on all levels of your house and be sure to check, test and replace batteries, if applicable when you change your clock batteries. Normal life span of these detectors are 7-10 years and some are still serviceable to have the battery replaced, however these units may come sealed with a 10-year battery in them. Once these fail then they will need to be replaced as a whole unit. If your detectors go off, move to fresh air right away and call 9-1-1!

It may sound funny to have a utility company come out to a structure fire or a building fire, but they could have just as much of an impact on the scene as we are having. During structure fires, crews are dealing with deteriorating conditions and opening up walls and ceilings to find hidden fire. Within these walls and ceilings are sometimes live electric. The electric needs to be secured by one of two ways; pulling the meter that is located on some exteriors of the house or building or by cutting the power physically at the pole where it comes in. This will help protect the fire fighters and let them work safely and worry free of electrocution. The other hazard would be a natural gas fed fire. These fires can be very dangerous because if the gas is not actively burning that may mean its building somewhere to possibly cause an explosion. The gas company, which is also PSE&G, can come out to help and secure the gas at the street and eliminate the flow and hazard in the structure.

While we only talked mainly about PSE&G here, we do work with Verizon, Comcast, water and sewer departments to name a few of the more common utilities. PSE&G is one of the utilities that we work hand in hand with. Normally the actions that we take on scenes, determine what their next action is and vice versa, items that PSE&G handle, usually serve positive outcomes and actions of the fire department. There is always one goal on every incident that we respond to with or without the need of our Utility Partners and that is: “Everybody Goes Home.” Stay safe and if you ever have any questions about processes you should take for alarms in your house, please contact the fire department and we will help you to the best of our ability.

Kevin F. Peak
Deputy Chief of Fire Operations
Delran Fire Department; Delran Fire District #1

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