File this under the heading of “Hmm, … I never thought about that.” Did you know that wind turbines occasionally catch fire? It isn’t something you see every day, we hope, but as the photos here illustrate, they sometimes do. In any normal situation, when you see something ablaze, you call the fire department and when they arrive, you watch as the trained and capable personnel put out the fire.
What do they do?
Now, suppose a wind turbine catches fire and the township fire department is called. What equipment do they bring and which personnel, because now they are dealing with a turbine fire on a tower over 300 feet in the air. Look again at this 500 foot wind turbine and picture a fire at the top of the tower. North East has no equipment designed to reach that height and no personnel specifically trained to deal with what would be a rather precarious situation.
Once the turbine is burning, the fire department would have no choice other than to simply let it burn, not the best solution in most fires, but in this case, there’s really no other option. Now add to this scenario the fact the fire is in a location that is, by definition, windy, and if the summer has been dry, as those we’ve had a couple of times recently, where might the sparks and flaming debris land? On dry crops, on dry brush, on trees? It would be up to the fire department to watch from the ground as the fire burned itself out, running to any location where a fire happened to start.
What about cleanup and repair?
If this occurs, once the fire is out, what assurance do we have the tower will be repaired and rebuilt to look as good as new and not left as the burned out remnants of a 500 foot tall wind turbine? How long before the work is completed? In a community like ours where tourists come to see the natural beauty of the vineyards and countryside, that’s not a minor issue.
You can put up turbines and roll the dice, betting nothing like this will happen, or you can exercise due diligence and ask these questions beforehand. There may be very good answers to these questions, but, so far, it doesn’t appear anyone has asked.
Residents of North East township deserve to know. It’s our community, it’s up to us.
Teresa Sheridan Sculley says
No fireman’s life is worth a wind turbine!!
ALAN ARNOLD says
YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE A FIREMAN GET HURT AT ANY FIRE BE IT A BRUSH-VEHICLE OR HOUSE FIRE. BEEING A HONORARY FIREMAN WITH 24 YEARS IN THE NORTH EAST FIRE DEPARTMENT I KNOW WHAT OUR MEN AND WOMEN GO THROUGH AT A FIRE. DANGER IS THERE AND I THINK WE HAVE THE BEST FIRE PERSONEL AND EQUIPMENT IN ERIE COUNTY OR EVIN THE STATE. I ALSO KNOW THE TRAINING THEY GO THROUGH. THEY TRAIN FOR ALL TYPES OF FIRES, I KNOW THAT THEY WILL ALSO GET INFORMATION AND TRAIN FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF A WINDMIL FIRE SO THAT THEY KNOW WHAT TO AND TO NOT DO . THRE IS DANGER IN ANYTHING IF YOU LOOK HARD ENOUGH.
Teresa Sheridan Sculley says
These are industrial wind turbines not private or commercial! I know of NO 40 story building in Erie City or County but these structures will be comparable to a 40 story building.
John Buxton says
The way you fight a fire in turbine is to let it burn out. This article is flawed in this idea that a local FD would need equipment to get to the top of the turbine. What the local FD would do is cordon off the area below the turbine and make sure the fire doesn’t spread and let the fire burn it self out.
Turbines are de-energized when maintenance folks go up tower. The point being that fires only occur when the tubine is online which means that there isn’t any chance of loss of life. So the only real loss of life threat is to people on the ground.
The last thing a local FD should do is attempt to put out a fire 200 feet in the air. There is no reason that anyone should risk their life for a turbine. It’s actually a good thing that local FD’s don’t have huge ladder trucks, if they didn’t they might put their lives at risk attempting something that isn’t wise.