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eNews: Bird Above a Wire

(light music) – [Narrator] Smiths Ferry, Idaho is a scenic, tranquil place. But when a forest fire hits,
the sky buzzes with activity as helicopters swoop
down to scoop water out of the Payette River. Idaho Power Line 328 runs across
the river at Smiths Ferry. And in recent years,
firefighting pilots have had some close
calls with the line. – Safety is a very high
priority in our company. It’s on the forefront
of everyone’s mind. And you know
fighting forest fires is a pretty dangerous task. So anything we can do to help
mitigate any type of risk, best we can, I think the company… Idaho Power’s all for it. – [Narrator] To improve
safety for everyone, Idaho Power devised a plan
to hang markers on the line. Spaced every 75 feet, the markers make the power
line easy for helicopter pilots to identify. – So this is a bird diverter. It’s usually used
for avian protection. We’re applying it
to this situation, really just to provide
visibility to the line. – [Narrator] But how do you
hang markers on a power line 100 feet in the air, with
a river directly below? – Since the wire goes across
a highway and across a river, we did it with a helicopter. (helicopter buzzing) So we carried two linemen on a line underneath
the helicopter and just worked our
way down the line and they clipped ’em on, clipped the diverters
on as we went along. – [Narrator] Lineman Jared
Fabrosh and Quinn Jacobsen undertook the aerial mission, suspended high above
the alpine landscape, the linemen quickly
and calmly installed 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, this project would have
made a much larger impact on customers, travelers, and Idaho Power resources. – [Man] Given the location of
the line crossing the highway and the river, it would have been a
pretty involved task to try to set up on both sides to get those bird diverters
placed on the line. So a helicopter really
provides an efficient way to do it. I mean it probably would
have taken two days worth of crew time to set up, to pull a line back one way, put bird diverters back on. This was done in half a morning. – [Narrator] In addition
to saving time and money, this project shows that
when it comes to keeping our service area safe, Idaho Power is willing to
go to extraordinary heights. With photographer Adam Bennet, this is Jordan Rodriguez
reporting for E-News.

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