Friday, February 18, 2011

The Danger after The Fire


After all the Fire apparatus has left and the Investigators and Insurance agents are gone
The Clean up and reconstruction begins and this can lead to many dangerous conditions
when it comes to restoring Utilities to a burned structure especially when it deals with the Electrical service.
the following 2 case studies point out just how vigilant Code Enforcement Officials must be when going back into buildings that have burned and re certifying there occupancy status.
Case 1#
I received an anxious phone call from one of my customers at 5:00 am in the morning during the night a fire broke out in an apartment building that was being renovated directly behind his store that was no more than 10 feet away .in a very tight alley
the Fire later ruled Arson by vagrants was so intense that it melted the many phone and Electrical wires for both Phone Company and Power Company . Could I please come down
and get his phone service restored to the building so he did not loose to much business
he already called his electrician to get the Electrical services on the building re hooked.and myself and several other contractors were busy getting services back on to various buildings involved
After arriving on the job and working with Phone Company's Lineman we had the phone lines back on after several hours in the mean time the Power Company's Linemen were re hooking up
electrical services which had not been damaged . My Clients Electrician had not yet
arrived which was typical for him and when I was all done I noticed on the outside of the building that an old abandoned service my customer had which had all its interior boxes removed and was just bare wires hanging inside the building had been accidentally re hooked by the Power company This should not have happened as my clients regular electrician was supposed to remove or other wise render useless and not re hook-able the old electrical service no longer being used as required by the National Electrical Code
But my clients Electrician did not do his job correctly( which ended up being the final nail in the coffin that my client fired him) and we had an extremely hazardous condition on our hands The Power company crews had already left so I immediately called Power Company's
Emergency Line and isolated the hot wires so no one would make contact and a Trouble shooter was on scene in 20 minutes and cut off the wiring that should not have been re hooked He cut the wires off on the old service close enough that it could never be re hooked. The line man was aggravated how we almost had another fire due to the laziness of an Electrician in removing old equipment
and Ultimately was a lesson well learned By The Power Company that they sent a safety engineer down to examine the situation and it is now part of there Safety program for Lineman. when having to reconstruct lines destroyed by fire.
Had I not noticed the incorrectly hooked up service some one could have been Electrocuted while bumping around in the dark basement.and or Fire started.

Case 2#
After an Explosion and Fire in an Apartment building where a woman was attempting suicide failed but extensively damaged the building .
the entire basement wiring had to be re run again my customer called me to replace the Fire Alarm wiring and while working on the Fire alarm Electricians from another company along with phone and cable people were all busy trying to figure out what went where , after the building was all hooked up and cleaned patched and painted , I called to get my system re certified and while I was working with the fire marshal the building owner was-running the back up generator to test it for the Building Inspector all of the hall lights went out . since I was already there working the owner asked me if I could find out what happened I put in a new fuse and sure enough it blew as soon as the generator stated . having worked on many back up generators I new immediately what was happening , during the re hooking of Electric Wires the circuit that supplied the lights was accidentally hooked up to 2 different sources of power
both the generator and main power which caused a short circuit, Knowing what caused it and finding it was another story I eventually traced it back to a junction box were prior to the fire all wires were marked as to generator or normal feed but after the fire it was a trace and guessing game and his electricians guessed wrong. again his electricians should have started the generator and would have known they made a mistake and corrected it but again the electricians did not do there job, Which could have left the tenants trapped in dark hallways had the code enforcement officials not been vigilant in there inspections.
All Electricians including myself make little mistakes and immediately attempt to locate and correct them but the above 2 cases should never have happened had the Electricians on the job did there job correctly. this is why code Enforcement must be vigilant when reinspecting previously burned structures .all to often you find shoddy reconstruction work after fires wood beams being filled with plaster and painted instead of being replaced and other structure fooling tricks and questionable equipment being re hooked which should have been replaced. There are too many restoration company's out there trying to fool inspectors with there shoddy work and I recently refused to do any further work for one recently and turned them in.its bad enough some one has to suffer tragedy the first time its criminal if it is not correctly restored.and ripping off there insurance carrier . and if your a career Fireman Moonlighting or Volunteer Fireman involved in Full Time construction work and witness this activity going on it is your duty to report it. and a shame and disgrace to you and your brother Fireman if you don't.

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