BulkTransmission/Fire Resources

From Open Energy Information

Transmission Fire Resources

Fire Resources
Present, Potentially Affected

Federal agencies typically require transmission line projects to independently manage fire risks and events that occur on site. Fire emergency plans accompany every transmission line siting to decrease collateral, personal, and resource damage. These plans strive to train employees on fire prevention, initial response procedures, and how to operate fire extinguishers. Acquiring these skills will help keep employees, private landowners, and site visitors safe.

Federal agencies require each site to develop a fire management plan. Each agency has specific protocols to address evacuation, land closures, and responses. In some cases, transmission projects will cross over lands managed by more than one agency. Concurrently complying with each fire plan strengthens the site’s preparedness. An example of shutdown procedures is outlines below:

Level 1

  • Chainsaws are permitted and a Fire Watch/Security is in effect.

Level 2 or Partial Hootowl

  • Power saws, cable yarding, blasting, welding or metal cutting operations are only allowed between the hours of 8pm-1pm

Level 3 or Partial Shutdown

  • Cable yarding and power saws are prohibited with few exceptions.
  • The following are allowed only between the hours of 8pm-1pm:
  • Tractors and equipment with blades
  • Blasting and spark emitting operations
  • Welding and metal cutting

Level 4 or General Shutdown

  • All operations are prohibited until further notice


Fire Resources Impacts & Mitigation

Transmission line development poses fire impacts to the proposed site and surrounding areas. Examples of fire types include, wildfires, and electrical and grassland fires. Construction vehicles, dry conditions, careless employee behaviors, debris stockpiles, and welding and cutting all contribute to fire ignition. Fires may ignite even if safety protocols have been followed.

Typical fire mitigation for the following categories may include:

Emergency Prevention and Preparedness

  • Develop fire prevention and emergency preparedness plans to limit ignition risk, and expedite response time in containing and extinguishing a fire.

Vehicles on site

  • Require all construction equipment to have internal combustion engines, fire extinguishers, 5 gallons of water, a shovel, and exhaust spark arresters.
  • Catalytic converters must be inspected and cleaned on construction vehicles. Personal vehicles and dormant construction equipment are to be parked only in approved areas and existing access roads to prevent vegetation ignition.

Water resources

  • Designate water used for dust control to also extinguish fires.

Employee Behavior

  • Allow smoking only in designated areas far from ignitable sources such as hazardous material, equipment service areas, and gas and oil storage.

Emergency Response

  • Post all emergency phone numbers in buildings and in vehicles.
  • Notify appropriate agencies when construction will cause temporary road closures.

Critical Protection Sites

  • To decrease fire damage potential, designate areas where dry habitats, chaparral vegetation, inhabited property, and previous fires have taken place as “Critical Protection Sites”.
  • Restrict vehicles and flammable chemical use in these areas.
  • Prepare for fire season by rigidly following fire management plans and collaborating with federal agencies.

Welding and Cutting

  • To decrease fire ignition risks, clear vegetation and restrict vehicle usage in the work area.
  • Equip the work area with a round-point shovel, fire extinguisher or a water-filled pump backpack.
  • At least one person is to accompany the welder or metal cutter at the work site to increase emergency reaction time and, in the event of an injury, administer first aid to the welder or metal cutter.

Debris on site

  • Without a permit, burning slash, brush, trash, stumps, brush, explosive storage boxes, and other construction generated debris on site is prohibited.


  • Clear all vegetation from transmission line pole bases and apply fire retardant materials to the wood.