In an earlier post we discussed our concern for the “Just let them burn and they will eventually burn out” fire fighting technique offered by the developer of the wind project high on the Allegheny Front in Mineral County, West Virgina. Surely this can’t be the only emergency response available, we thought!
Well, our friends at Wind Concerns Ontario convinced us with a post today that we’re not the only ones scratching our heads. According to WCO, the Norfolk Fire & Rescue has a plan in case a wind turbine catches fire, one that does not involve extinguishing the flames. Rather, the plan is to move in, establish a perimeter and allow the fire to burn itself out.
It’s amazing when you think that the international emergency plan for multiple 400 foot tall, 300 foot diameter spinning sparklers is nothing more than “bring your own marshmallows and gather around.”
Oh, I don’t fault the firefighters. What else can they do? The fire is out of reach for any equipment they might have available and we certainly don’t want them risking their lives simply to save equipment.
At least the Norfolk Fire and Rescue group has a plan to establish a perimeter. I’m not sure we’ve even gotten that far here in West Virginia with the Edison Mission folks, and our turbines are scheduled to fire up … oops … start up on December 31, 2011.
Don’t get me wrong … our West Virginia firefighters are second to none, but it’s a long and winding road up to the turbines at Pinnacle, and they’re nestled in the middle of a forest. I’m frankly concerned that if a turbine fire occurred on a dry and windy night, the fire perimeter might actually establish itself … at the bottom of the mountain.
It’s not impossible to imagine that scenario if you consider what happened recently in Texas on flat land with easy access. It took a rapid response with eight trucks to contain the fire to about 2 acres.
As the WCO article and our review of this Fire Engineering article points out, “there is a surprising amount of combustible material on top of these towers.” Calling it a definite “high hazard zone,” due to the potential dangers of falling combustibles and turbines blades constructed of “balsa wood wrapped in fibreglass,” John Verboom, a community safety officer with Norfolk Fire & Rescue recommends no one “get within half a kilometre of them.”
I would suggest that a safer distance, even if the expensive, unreliable and inefficient clunkers aren’t lighting up the sky, might be … say 24,901.55 miles miles. Yep, that should do it!