Thursday, September 20, 2018

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Electric cooperative demonstrates the dan­gers posed by downed, live power lines

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    Kevin Scheidler, a lineman for Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative, holds a rubber glove up to a 7,200-volt power line, showing how it catches fire. The Cornell-based cooperative gave a demonstration Wednesday to area law enforcement and emergency workers.

    Staff photo by Chris Vetter
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CHIPPEWA FALLS — Kevin Scheidler held a rubber glove up to a 7,200-volt power line Wednesday. When the glove touched the live line, it immediately zapped and crackled, and caught fire.

Scheidler, a lineman for Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative of Cornell, was among several workers who gave a demonstration Wednesday to area law enforcement and emergency workers at the Chippewa County Jail.

The linemen also charred hot dogs by having them touch the live lines.

Scheidler said he likes giving the demonstration on the dangers of power lines.

“It opens their eyes a lot — when they see that spark and how hot it gets,” Scheidler said. “It’s good for the community, and letting the police and fire departments know.”

Scheidler, who has worked for the cooperative for 18 years, said he responds to calls for live, downed wires perhaps two or three times a year.

“It will go down in the snow and will be hot,” Scheidler said.

Jim Hodowanic, a line superintendent for the power cooperative, said their old portable demonstration unit would take hours to set up. Their new unit, sitting on the back of a trailer, is much easier to move, and it looks far more like an actual power line.

“It shows the dangers of live lines,” he said.

Hodowanic said it was good to give the presentation to law enforcement.

“Usually, a sheriff’s department worker is the first one to arrive at an accident,” Hodowanic said. “By showing this, it makes people respect the lines more. They see a line on the ground, and they think it is dead.”

The power cooperative has another demonstration planned for today for firefighters, and Hodowanic said they usually do a couple of trips to area schools.

“We like to do them in the springtime because we aren’t as busy,” he said.

Chippewa County sheriff’s Lt. Mitch Gibson lined up the demonstration, which was attended by about 40 emergency workers or law enforcement officers.

“This is a refresher for our guys on the road, so they are aware of the dangers,” Gibson said. “I liked how close the demonstration looks like the real world. I appreciate the responsibility their position takes on a daily basis.”


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