Wildfire Safety: Using Fire-Resistant Cables to Stop the Spread

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Wildfires are a continual concern in many California communities. In fact, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, there have been 7,921 fires from January 1 through November 29 of 2020. That’s an increase from 6,872 fires reported in the same period in 2019.

Big Bear and Bear Valley, the mountainous Southern California areas serviced by Bear Valley Electric Services (BVES), are full of historic trees, dry brush, and an aging grid. As a result, the area is designated as very high-fire-risk, and BVES is laser-focused on fire mitigation.

Let’s look at how WESCO helped BVES lessen its wildfire spread risk by implementing fire-resistant (FR) cables and other ways utility companies are trying to reduce their impact.

Stopping the Spread: How BVES Introduced Fire-Resistant Cables

BVES recently began evaluating new opportunities to deliver power safely. In its search, the company found that its existing cable jackets on overhead tree wires could be a significant source of wildfire spread. For example, when the cable jacket is flammable, it can quickly spread fire to other territory areas within minutes.

As a result, BVES turned to its local WESCO Branch in Santa Fe Springs, CA, to learn more about sourcing cables constructed with flame-resistant jackets. Ultimately, WESCO identified Priority Wire &Cable as the right partner for the job.

WESCO and Priority Wire & Cable were able to demonstrate and support BVES’s installation of fire-resistant cabling in electrical service poles in the area to protect local communities, land, and wildlife from fire destruction.

Jeff Capra, WESCO Sales Manager, who answered BVES’ calls, shared, “As the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) makes stronger demands on utilities for fire-hardening to protect California from wildfires, we as utility industry solution providers have an opportunity and an obligation to introduce innovative products such as this FR cable by Priority Wire & Cable that reduces fire risk and strengthens the ability of utility companies to stop the spread of fires quickly.”

How Utilities are Helping to Reduce Wildfire Spread

Given the rise of wildfires in California in 2020, utility companies are taking additional steps to do their part in stopping the spread.

Some examples include:

  • Undergoing routine safety inspections
  • Making improvements to infrastructure
  • Meeting state vegetation and fire safety standards
  • Adding advanced weather stations in high-threat areas
  • Installing HD cameras in high-threat cameras for ongoing surveillance

Also, thanks to a successful first installation of fire-resistant technology, BVES will install an additional 60,000 feet of FR cable throughout its system.

Read the full story from T&D World below. 

Covered Wire Combats California Wildfires

This story was first featured in T&D World on April 27, 2020.