Birds As a Fire Hazard? How Birds Perched on Transformers Can Lead to Fires
Birds are quite beautiful creatures when they soar the skies. It is fascinating to see them flying around for long durations, trying to find food, building nests, and feeding their young. However, they pose significant fire hazards.
As the population around the world is growing fast, the demand for electricity supply is increasing vastly. The main medium of transporting electricity are the power lines connected through big transformers and ground-level poles.
It is estimated that the service life of a power supply pole or the electricity transformer that manages the voltage supply is about 50 years. While this is beneficial for humankind, it poses fatal risks for the birds.
Electricity equipment has been causing fatality to the birds since the they were first installed in the US around about the 1880s. Wild birds like raptors, eagles, owls, and even hawks are the common victims of transformer fires.
Following are the threats birds face due to ground level electricity poles:
Birds consider power lines or conducting cables as a safe landing strip on which they can easily sit and rest. Many times, they can sit on them safely, but other times they also cause short-circuit in the cables.
Electricity power poles are built in places where there used to be trees, birds consider them as an option to perch, roost and build their nests to lay eggs, and while doing so, they suffer fatality by getting electrocuted.
Many times, while taking their flights or landing, the birds collide with power cables in the sky, causing themselves bad injuries and even death because the impacts are so intense. These animals are unable to perceive the cables as a threat in the sky and don’t avoid trying to come in contact with them.
Bird droppings or their excrements can easily damage the insulations present on the power cables exposing them to cause short circuits or fire hazards on the poles, creating a more dangerous situation for humans as well.
Wild birds that perch on the transformers can lead to fire because the transformers have exposed contact points, bushings, and jumpers unless they are heavily insulated. This can cut the supply of electricity and cause power outages and customer interruptions.
While the birds sitting on a single wire or cable alone pose no danger, if the bird is touching two wires at a time or is sitting on the transformer while touching another wire or the pole, it is bound to be electrocuted even cause a fire.
Secondly, birds often build nests around the transformers while the technical teams promptly inspect and remove the nests. It just temporarily eradicates the nests. Birds are persistent creatures, and they keep building nests at the same place regardless of how many times they get removed.
The problem occurs when these nests attract predators like raccoons, possums, cats, and snakes. Once they try to reach the nests, they pose a great danger in terms of causing short circuits or fire on the transformers and poles.
The power supply companies need to create a perch guard around the transformers to keep the birds from resting on them. In addition to that, they should also heavily insulate the jumpers, infuse tapes on the exposed connecting wires and install metal spikes between the cutouts and arresters to discourage wild birds from sitting on transformers.
Birds do not like lights at night, so installing lightings on or near the transformers can help keep them away. Where ever possible, the power companies should install power cables underground to avoid birds getting electrocuted.
The reality is that there is no proper way to permanently keep the birds away from power cables or transformers. However, getting knowledge on how birds behave in the environment can help mitigate the repercussions such as fire hazards caused on the poles and transformers.
Power outages can be extremely costly, and so can cleaning the insulators from bird droppings be. The best way is to take precautionary measures and install the electrical equipment and insulate the wires using good quality materials to avoid wild birds getting a pass by them.
Another environment-friendly and cost-efficient way to avoid birds getting problematic for the electrical equipment is to install them in such a way as to make them co-exist with trees.
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