These days, many people have two jobs, but not often do they intersect. Certainly not the way they did on Wednesday for Grays Harbor Public Utility District Commissioner Dave Timmons.
In addition to representing District Two on the Grays Harbor PUD Board, Timmons is also the Deputy Police Chief for the City of Aberdeen. On Wednesday morning, Timmons was participating in the response to an armed man barricaded in a home on the 2000 block of Harding Road in South Aberdeen. When law enforcement asked PUD crews to cut power to the home in an attempt to end the standoff, Timmons and PUD Line Superintendent Steve Easton devised a plan to shut the power off to the home, without impacting surrounding homes.
“At first it appeared the only solution was to turn off all the power on Harding Road, which would impact around 350 customers,” Timmons recalled. “I wasn’t really comfortable with impacting that many homes, so Steve came up with a way to cut the power at the pole.”
However, the switch to cut the power is 40 feet off the ground, near lines carrying 7200 volts of electricity and directly opposite the building in which the armed suspect was located. Since using a PUD bucket truck would have put the line crews in a potential line of fire, Timmons volunteered to walk to the pole with a State Patrol trooper and reach the switch from the ground with an electrical grade fiberglass extendo-stick, which only highly trained professionals are qualified to use, due to the high risk of electric shock.
“One of the service linemen gave me a quick training on how to extend the stick and reach the switch and supervised the entire process. I knew the State Patrol would protect me using a ballistics blanket so I was comfortable getting that close to the house,” said Timmons. “The hardest part was the weight of the stick. It’s between 30 and 40 pounds and when fully extended it was really awkward, but working together we were able to throw the switch and shut off the power.”
Eventually, the suspect surrendered peacefully, ending an 18 hour standoff that left Timmons with additional appreciation for the work and responsibilities of the PUD line crews.
“It gives you a real perspective on what our line crews go through,” said Timmons. “This was a clear and calm day. Our crews do this on stormy, windy days. I have a whole new level of respect for the work that these men and women do.”