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Responding to substation incidents

Welcome to PPL Electric Utilities' Tips of the Trade for first responders. These tips are intended to help you respond safely and effectively to incidents involving electricity. Please review with your team and visit our dedicated first responder safety website for additional materials.

Danger lies beyond the gates

Substations are secured areas that support the efficient transmission and distribution of electricity. They contain transformers and other equipment that reduce very high-voltage electricity to levels suitable for the local distribution grid.

Substations contain multiple shock hazards, including capacitors, batteries, transformers and uninsulated conductors, with the potential to arc over significant distances. And the liquid and gaseous chemicals present in substation equipment—such as dielectric fluid, transformer oils and sulfuric acid—make fires in these facilities especially dangerous.

Unless directed otherwise by PPL Electric Utilities personnel, always stay outside the fenced area of a substation.

Do not enter!

If you arrive at a substation incident before PPL Electric Utilities, contact the utility and remain outside all locked doors, gates and fenced areas. Under no circumstances should you enter the substation before PPL Electric Utilities personnel arrive. While you wait for utility personnel, take these steps:

If equipment is burning, let it burn. Burning electrical equipment is already ruined and will be replaced. Do not risk injury to protect equipment that will not be repaired.



Protect nearby exposures, but stay at least 100 feet away from energized objects and use a 30-degree fog pattern at 100 psi. DO NOT direct water into the substation.

Isolate the area at least 500 feet in all directions. Keep unauthorized persons away.

Be alert for transformer explosions, smoke hazards and oil releases. Stay upwind and consider initial downwind evacuation for at least 1,000 feet.

Monitor for oil runoff; direct it away from catch basins or surface waters.

Respond conservatively to substation fires

Always consider a substation to be a hazardous environment where a safe response requires a high level of situational awareness.

When responding to a fire inside a substation, resist the natural impulse toward aggressive action. Enter a substation ONLY if specifically directed to do so by your incident commander and AFTER PPL Electric Utilities confirms equipment has been

With equipment de-energized, a transformer oil fire can be extinguished by using protein foam and water fog streams. Never use a solid stream of water on oil as it can spread the fire. Report all oil releases to the incident commander and PPL Electric Utilities, and follow standard tactics for a hazardous materials response.

To report utility emergencies, call PPL Electric Utilities at 1-800-342-5775 (1-800-DIAL-PPL) immediately. For more first responder safety information, visit ppl.e-smartresponders.com.