LPEA Implements New Fire Prevention Measures

With current and pending dry conditions, high temperatures and blustery winds present in the region, La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) has implemented enhanced safety measures, helping ensure that electrical equipment damage or repair efforts don’t contribute to fire danger.

“Safety is a number one priority for LPEA and our crews,” said Justin Talbot, manager of operations. “We are being pro-active and what this may mean with our safety steps and checks is that, in the event of an outage, it will take us a little longer to restore power, and we hope our members will understand.”

At a location where line/equipment damage has prompted an outage, linemen will do extra patrols of the affected section of line to make certain no other flammable objects are touching the electrical equipment. Only then will the all-clear be given and the line re-energized. The linemen will then remain at the location to ensure no embers are smoldering.

“These steps will lengthen our response time just a little, for precautionary purposes, which could be very important if a fire has been sparked,” said Talbot. “Also, all our vehicles are now equipped with watering systems to douse any sparked fires.”

LPEA has line personnel on stand-by throughout the night – one Journeyman Lineman each in Durango, Bayfield/Ignacio and Pagosa Springs. In the event of more serious conditions, additional line personnel will be called to an outage location.

“We coordinate closely with county emergency personnel so we can be ready and in place if a fire approaches our electrical system, such as a distribution line, transmission line or substation,” said Talbot.

“We’re also asking our customers to be aware – be our eyes,” said Curt Marlatt, line superintendent. “If you’ve got an outage, go outside and survey your property, as well as your neighbors’, for downed power lines, smoke or a visible fire. If you see anything, call 9-1-1 immediately – then call LPEA at 970.247.5786.”

In an associated effort, LPEA’s contracted tree trimming crews, which are currently working in La Plata County and moving to Archuleta County in a few weeks, have been asked to remain in their work areas following the last use of a chain saw to make sure no fires have been sparked.

“And customers living in wooded areas, please look up – look at the trees that are near the electrical lines,” said Marlatt. “If you notice large branches that could potentially fall through the lines on a windy day, or a dead tree in the right-of-way, give us a call. We will come check it out and if it is a potential hazard, we can take care of it.”

LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 42,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, visit www.lpea.coop.