Chapter 1

Electrical Emergencies

"Firefighters are called to homes for a variety of electrical problems, whether flickering lights, electrical odors, or to extinguish fires of electrical origin. The cause of the problem can lie in the building's wiring: it can be the result of a faulty appliance or one that is being misused, or it can be due to some external force such a lighting, mechanical damage, or water leak. Typically, at non-fire emergencies, you will be met with an electrical odor when you enter the premises. The odor may or may not be accompanied by haze or smoke, but in either case, the source of the odor probably won't be obvious. Now is the time to interview the caller to determine what was happening in the house prior to the development of the odor.

Regardless of the cause, you must determine what the problem is and locate the portion of the electrical system that is affected. Once the problem has been identified, you must remove the hazard. This can mean shutting down the power to an entire building, an apartment, a line of apartments, a room, or it can simply mean pulling the plug of the offending appliance. You shouldn't fix the problem; rather, you should leave the task of restoring power to licensed electricians. Even if one of the firefighters happens to be an electrician, you should still only mitigate the hazard, not make repairs. In some municipalities, firefighters issue orders to have a defective electrical system tested by a licensed electrician before restoring power. This is a good idea. In any case, if you shut down the electrical supply to a house or appliance, you should warn the occupant not to turn it back on until it has been checked and deemed safe."

Chapter one discusses the hazards, causes and mitigation tactics to use at each of the following types of electrical incidents and fires:

  • Electrical Lighting Emergencies
  • Electrical Appliances
  • Sparking Outlets and Fixtures
  • Electrical Fires
  • Electrical Service Problems
  • Energized Aluminum Siding
  • On Pole Emergencies
  • Downed Power Lines
  • Electrical Manholes

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Revised: 12/20/03 .