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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2003


Arizona: Cable TV worker hits power line, is badly burned

Excerpts from the Payson Roundup:

"As the lights went out in his Alpine Village home, Kenny Knapp recognized the explosive sound that filled the air. The outage occurred when a technician was seriously injured while working near a 21,000-volt power line on Airport Road Wednesday afternoon. 'When you hear a sound like that, you know it has something to do with power," said Knapp, who worked as an Arizona Public Service lineman for 40 years.'"

"Bob Tubandt of Networx Cabling Systems suffered second- and third-degree burns to his hands, and flash burns to his face while working on a cable television line that runs parallel to an APS power line near the Payson airport. Tubandt was airlifted by Native Air to the Maricopa Medical Center burn unit where he is listed in stable condition."

"Networx Cabling Systems is a Flagstaff-based company contracted by Cable Vision to rebuild the Payson cable system."

"'We think it was a lashing wire that probably touched the power cable and caused the arc,' Buchea said."

Comment: This is why the National Electrical Safety Code (and state law in most states), requires all cable TV and telephone services be separated by a safety zone of at least 40" from the lowest power conductor. When there's not enough vertical separation available, the correct, safe and legal thing to do is to have the power company replace the too-short pole with a taller pole -- but that costs money, so often cable TV companies will cut corners and crowd the safety zone anyway.

I do not know if that was what happened in this case, but I do know that it's a dangerous and common practice. Georgia Power, in a recent filing with the FCC, noted over 10,000 electrical safety violations by cable TV companies on its' poles.


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