Inspection

I Had A Pole Fall Down: What Caused It, and What Do We Do Next?

February 12, 2020

A fallen exterior light pole can have significant consequences for owners and consumers alike. For commercial lighting incidents, many private asset owners recognize the benefits offered by partnering with an outsourced structural inspection company to manage their commercial, retail, and sports field lighting fixtures. However, a fallen light pole in public spaces, such as roadways and parks, brings with it an entirely new set of intricacies and complications.

Effective Power Pole Maintenance Goes Beyond Working Bulbs and Standing Poles

Millions of the country’s outdoor lights are owned by various public entities, including utility companies, municipalities, and the Department of Transportation. Like their commercial counterparts, when it comes to utility pole maintenance, many public organizations focus primarily on the current performance of a fixture. They assume that if the pole is standing and consumers have access to power, the asset must be both functioning and safe.

Not true.

Most public asset owners don’t realize that a standing pole and active light is not nearly enough to ensure the structural integrity of the fixture. As a result, many organizations in the public sector don’t have a consistent inspection and maintenance program. They therefore ignore these large, expensive, and often aging assets until an issue arises. It’s only after a pole falls that they take the steps needed to remediate, repair, or replace the damaged structure.

Weather, Corrosion, and Neglect Can Cause a Pole To Fall

Unfortunately, a reactive approach to utility pole inspection and maintenance increases the overall risk incurred by the asset owner over the lifetime of the fixture. Many of these steel lighting poles have been standing for decades. Harsh weather conditions, corrosion, and standard wear and tear can all come into play, systematically wearing down both the performance and integrity of the pole. Eventually, the age factor gets the best of most of these fixtures, making a fallen pole virtually inevitable.

Public power poles are typically stationed in densely populated areas, exponentially increasing the chance of physical injury, or even a fatality, in the event of a fallen shaft. Beyond the risk of personal harm or property damage, a fallen utility post also causes a power outage, eliminating consumers’ access to electricity. Finally, neglecting the needs of utility poles until a unit falls often requires a full replacement. Replacing an asset is an extremely expensive, potentially cost-prohibitive project for owners that could often be avoided with a consistent, thorough utility pole maintenance approach.

Partner With an Outsourced Structural Inspection Resource Before a Pole Falls

Contacting a third party utility pole maintenance specialist is an excellent option after a fixture falls. However, the best practice for public lighting owners would be to establish a protocol that includes utilizing outsourced lighting professionals before a pole falls.

A qualified and reputable team will develop a customized, proactive approach to maintain your assets, beginning with a thorough fleet assessment to determine the health rating of each individual pole. Once your provider creates a benchmark of each fixture, the team will create a plan for routine evaluations to pinpoint issues and deterioration before they become a significant concern. The right outsourced vendor can help keep your poles healthy and functional to ensure high performance and mitigated risk throughout their overall lifespan for increased cost-efficiency, public safety, and peace of mind.

Contact Exo today to hear more about our utility pole maintenance services.

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