We’ve talked a little bit about blocking competitors on the pole. From hanging new equipment low so it has to be moved, to allowing wires to dip well below the space or the 15 or so feet minimum they’re required to be. All of this either from poor maintenance, or to prevent competitors (mostly Google Fiber,) from being able to get on the pole.
I suspect the latter personally.
TL;DR – slightly obfuscated story told to small time blogger which you can believe the basics of or not.
Before we begin: Name changed to protect Jack, part of house destroyed changed, city changed.
This weekend I learned of another consequence I hadn’t considered to drooping lines – that this practice, or that the lack of maintenance, depending on what you believe your local monopolies are doing, is potentially deadly.
You’re not going to hear a lot about it because when something happens, if people want to get compensated without an expensive legal fight, they sign an NDA or a similar don’t talk about it contract.
So we’ll call our person Jack. Jack has signed an NDA (or no talk,) in order to get a settlement. Jack is probably violating said NDA/settlement hoping you’ll do something (explained later.)
Jack had internet service with a company. Said company, much like on my line (which we’ve discussed before,) let their new lines droop way below acceptable. Jack also thinks this was to block Google Fiber, but Jack doesn’t exist so who cares what Jack thinks.
Jack’s street doesn’t allow semis on it (large cargo carrying trucks.) There’s a sign, or was a sign. Several months ago a truck wandered onto Jack’s street. It was one street off where it needed to be, this wasn’t malicious wandering, just a mistake. Under normal circumstances this would not have been an issue as the average height of semis is between 13 feet 6 inches and 14 feet.
Telecommunication equipment, which is usually the bottom lines on a telephone pole, are required to droop no lower than 15.5 feet. Jack’s telecommunication line was under 13 feet crossing the street when the truck came through. It’s unclear from what I have where on the line he was connected as his could have been higher depending on where in the droop he was connected.
You think under normal circumstances snapped internet cable, perhaps broken anchor screw, maybe side damage to house. In this instance the internet wire broke, at about 4 feet off the ground where it went into the house in a little plastic box, the anchor eye screw near the top of the house held firm.
This caused the now free, and extremely long internet line to fly up into the air as it was yanked by a semi barreling down Jack’s street at nearly 25 miles per hour. The line’s airborne properties in normal circumstances would have quickly diminished and left it crumpled on the street had it not managed to gain greater altitude than the power lines running to the house.
Gravity was to be denied an internet cable for a few seconds more as it wrapped around the power line. All of this must have happened fairly quickly because the truck driver reported she’d hit the brakes the instant there was a noise/she knew what happened.
The power line now somewhat lassoed, somehow ripped out of the house bending an aluminum pipe that the power line went into and causing issue to either an electrical panel or a small junction box. Jack’s not gotten back to me at this point on that detail. I’m not clear either on whether the internet line pulled the power line down a couple of feet where it was hit by the trailer on the truck, or whether the internet cable was strong enough to pull the electrical line out.
The electrical line, free from restraints, traverses the side and then front of Jack’s house and lands on or near a porch swing. The next set of events are not to clear as the driver stopped and called the fire department or the police for the downed power line and when they arrived they noticed that the porch at the house was on fire. There was also a lack of electricity at some point during this, although Jack was not at home at the time so who knows.
The fire department came out and put out a porch fire. Jack’s house wasn’t particularly airtight so everything got to smell wonderful, couple of windows ruined, everything smelled like burning pressure treated wood and 1950’s paint, etc.
Across the street a man on a ventilator died.
That last line is true, however he died as far as anyone knows completely unrelated to this. The timing was just coincidental. Dude was going to die, it’s not like ISP of your choice totally killed that dude. (or did they?)
Jack had the option to fight the internet company in court or accept about 70% of what repairs and entire house washing ended up costing. While damages could be proven pretty easily, it ended up not being worth the fight for Jack, and he just wants this to not happen elsewhere.
What you can do
Every ISP or telecommunication company has contact information posted somewhere where you can report drooping wires or downed equipment. While you may not know who has what equipment where, the bottom lines are generally your local cable company, or your local bell spinoff. Call them.
Contact info I have (not much really)
- AT&T 1.800.288.2020 and select repair
- Comcast 1-800-266-2278
Call them if your lines are drooping, or you see equipment on the ground that should be on the poles. Even if you don’t want Google Fiber in your hood, let’s try and keep our porches safe.
Feel free to leave other carrier’s contact info in the comments, and if you’ve got a story feel free to post it or email me.