Live Wire Safety

Each FEU operating company will have access to a safety trailer – similar to this one designed for Sevier County in Tennessee.

July 14, 2020

FirstEnergy is launching a comprehensive Public Safety Outreach program designed to help protect members of the public who may come near our electrical lines and equipment. One of the key components of our program will be a new fleet of Electrical Safety Trailers to help educate first responders about the potential dangers of energized electrical facilities.

“Keeping first responders safe when they must work near our equipment is a responsibility that we take seriously,” said Candy Webb, consultant, Public Safety. “We have more than 6,200 first responder organizations, including firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel, across our service territory. The trailers are designed to demonstrate potential dangers – specifically in situations where a vehicle accident or severe weather cause a power line to fall or damage other energized equipment.”demonstration, two qualified electrical workers from our lines or substation group – wearing all required personal protective equipment – energize the conductors to show how electricity can travel through everyday objects.

Initially, requests for safety trailer demonstrations will be accepted through employee referrals and by word of mouth as the Public Safety group develops a volunteer base to operate the equipment. Depending on the situation, the demonstrations can take place at a FirstEnergy facility or the safety trailer can travel to other locations.

“We’d like to thank the members of the Electrical Safety Trailer Team (see box at right and photo below for team members) for their hard work and dedication to designing a quality product that will help us educate the people who selflessly serve our communities,” Candy added.

The safety trailers are just a part of the company’s Public Safety Outreach Program that is under development. Some of the other initiatives include:

  • Working with Communications & Branding on a broader, branded campaign to educate the public about staying safe around electricity.
  • Building a Public Safety Software Platform that will enable the team to track all outreach, incident management and communications for first responders, third-party contractors, government public affairs organizations and school districts.
  • Sending employee volunteers to schools (kindergarten through sixth grade) located in our service territory to give presentations about electrical safety.

“Although COVID-19 has altered the timeline of our outreach efforts, we continue to make progress with our public safety programs,” said Shelley Baber, manager, Contractor & Public Safety. “We are working with Communications & Branding to develop the overall theme of the campaign as well as the materials for school students when they can safely return to the classroom.”

Initial Safety Outreach Materials Receive High Marks

We received a lot of positive feedback from first responders, third-party contractors and educational institutions to the public safety information that was distributed earlier this year.

After receiving the mailing, 700 first responders and more than 800 third-party contractors requested additional training materials. When asked to complete a brief survey, more than 90% of respondents chose “strongly agree” or “agree” when asked if the information would help keep them safe around electricity.

Candy said that some of the most meaningful responses came from teachers, who sent many notes of thanks for supplying the materials and for helping to educate students about electrical safety. “We received requests for approximately 21,000 activity books, nearly 11,000 homework assignments, more than 1,000 posters and about 300 educational CDs,” she added.

In addition to the mailings, we launched websites for each group. To visit the sites, click on the following links: first responders, third-party contractors and educational institutions.

In 2019, members of the FirstEnergy Electrical Safety Trailer Team traveled to Tennessee to check out a trailer used by the Sevier County Electric System. L. to r.: Mike Ressler, Josh Schraufnagel (Sevier County), Darren Puffinburger, Candy Webb, Jack Cole, Phil Carter and Marcus Parton (Sevier County).