Use Caution When Burning Fields and Pastures Around Utility Poles

Posted on Nov 18 2023 in Heartland REMC
Pasture burning

For years people have been burning fields, yards, and pastures as a way to revitalize the greens that grow in these places or for brush and weed control. However, if these burns are not managed safely, they can cause property damage, power outages, injury, and even death. Before deciding to do this, it’s important to evaluate all your options and make sure this is a good solution for your property. In some areas, you may also be required to obtain a burning permit.

Heartland REMC reminds members that utility poles can often be damaged during “controlled” burns. This can compromise the integrity of the pole leading to power outages or possible harm to those around the pole. Utility poles are treated with a protective coating that prevents moisture from entering the core of the pole to prevent deterioration. If a pole is burned or scorched, the protective coating is damaged. Though it may appear as just a discoloration or slight burn, this is, in fact, damage to the pole. This will significantly shorten the life of a power pole.

Members will be held liable for the cost of the replacement pole which could be more than $1,000 depending on the pole and equipment. Taking a little extra effort to prevent pole damage can help control costs for you and your cooperative. Things to keep in mind:

  • If there is a utility pole in the area that you plan on burning, start by clearing the weeds closest to the base of the pole. Then, wet the base of the pole with water before beginning to burn anything around the pole.
  • Pay attention to the wind speed. The fire is less likely to get out of control when the wind is low and blowing in a steady direction.
  • If the fire spreads unexpectedly and the pole becomes engulfed in flames, immediately call the fire department and HREMC. To keep yourself and others safe, do not spray water on any part of the pole at this point. Electricity and water do not mix and can create shock or electrocution hazards.
  • Carbon particles in smoke can conduct electricity. Smoke produced during the burning may also conduct electricity and cause an electrical discharge from the line. To reduce this risk, the fire should not cross under electric lines.
  • A pole that burned is likely to fall over which will cause downed power lines. This is extremely dangerous. If anyone comes into contact or close to energized lines, they will most likely be seriously burned or even killed. Please report this damage to HREMC right away.

Additionally, if you have trees growing close to power lines in the area you want to burn, please contact us to arrange a time for our tree crew to take a look and remove or clear the trees.