Avista boosts public safety with enhanced Wildfire Resiliency Plan
“Avista has a long history of proactively adopting industry-best practices to manage wildfire risks, which is why we’ve again taken it upon ourselves to identify new tools and measures to better protect the people and communities we serve,” said
Avista spent the last year developing its Wildfire Resiliency Plan through a series of internal workshops, industry research and engagement with state and local fire agencies. The Company took a comprehensive look at its existing wildfire defenses and considered each tactic individually to determine if it could be expanded or improved upon. Improvements to infrastructure and operational practices were identified as key components to the plan.
The formalized plan emphasizes continued collaboration with land-management and fire-response agencies. It promotes increased public and worker safety as well as protection of physical assets and property. It also identifies measures to further minimize service disruptions caused by wildfires and other extreme weather events.
The plan’s recommendations are focused in key areas:
Grid Hardening – Infrastructure will be replaced and/or strengthened (especially in fire-prone areas) with fire-resilient materials such as steel vs. wood poles and the addition of fiberglass cross-arms to better protect electrical equipment and reduce the likelihood of spark-ignition sources. Power-line inspections will also be enhanced with aerial surveys.
Vegetation Management – Oversight of fire-prone areas will be increased to further reduce contact between vegetation and power lines. More frequent inspections will include the use of aerial surveys to identify tree/vegetation encroachments that require follow up work.
Situational Awareness – Operational decisions will be improved by leveraging current systems to better monitor and control the grid. Dashboard technology will be developed to enhance fire-risk assessment through weather forecasting. Fire-risk near more densely populated areas will be prioritized.
Operations and Emergency Response – The potential for wildfires will be decreased during severe conditions by physically patrolling outage areas prior to re-energizing distribution lines to mitigate the risk of sparks. Advanced training and simulation will also be initiated to better prepare Avista personnel to work with fire professionals during wildfires.
Worker and Public Safety – Partnerships with emergency first responders will be enhanced by incorporating designated Avista personnel into the Incident Command System. Calls to 911 will also be initiated by Avista when transmission-line disruptions occur during fire season to help firefighters more quickly check and extinguish possible fires. In addition, Avista’s 550 electric-line workers will receive training in working with fire responders.
More information about Avista’s Wildfire Resiliency Plan can be found at myavista.com/wildfire.
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Source: Avista Corporation