Idaho Power is committed to keeping its service area safe. So, when firefighting pilots in the Boise National Forest had a hard time seeing a powerline that crosses the Payette River at Smith’s Ferry, linemen sprang into action.
“Safety’s a very high priority at our company,” said Engineering Project Leader Joe Stippel. “Fighting forest fires is a pretty dangerous task, so anything we can do to mitigate risk, Idaho Power is all for it.”
Stippel’s crew devised a plan to hang reflective bird diverters across the powerline. Spaced every 75 feet, the markers make the line easy for helicopter pilots to spot. Because the 100-foot-high structure crosses Highway 55 and the river below, the crew enlisted the assistance of a helicopter.
Linemen Jered Ferbrache and Quinn Jacobson undertook the aerial mission, installing 21 bird diverters across the line while using hand and head signals to communicate with the pilot. The linemen were in the air for 14 minutes, and Highway 55 traffic was stopped for less than half that time. Without the helicopter, Stippel estimates the project would have taken two days, with much larger impacts on traffic and Idaho Power resources.
Watch Idaho Power’s eNews video on the project. Photos, interview clips and B-roll footage are available upon request.