Confined space exercise at WADS power plant

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kimberly D. Burke, Western Air Defense Sector Public Affairs

The Western Air Defense Sector conducted an arc flash injury exercise inside the WADS power plant Nov. 13, 2018.  The exercise was designed to help the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Department become accustom to working safely around the WADS unique power plant equipment and practice confined space rescue procedures.

An arc flash, or flashover, is part of an arc fault, a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from a low-impedance connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.  “Basically, an arch flash is a direct short with explosion,” explained Kelly Thomas, 225th Support Squadron electrical systems specialist.  “In this scenario, one of our team member’s extremity was blown off and debris kicked out causing third degree burns.  The other team member fell into the generator pit after being startled by the arc flash and resulting explosion.”

First responders from JBLM Battalion 103, Station 105 and 106, responded to the call quickly and began rendering first aid to the two simulated injured victims.  Due to the depth and the confined space inside the generator pit where the second patient fell, a special rigging team was needed to extract the victim.  The rigging team was able to rig a ladder slide in order to rescue the patient and not damage the generator in the process. 

“Overall, the exercise went extremely well,” said Clint Stephens, 225th SS chief of utilities.  “Our ultimate goal is to ensure the JBLM Fire Department can operate safely when the WADS has to shut electrical equipment down.”