Originally Published: June 18, 2017 5:52 a.m.
It’s 11 at night and Scott Kahrs’ phone is ringing. He rushes to get dressed as thunder cracks and rain slams into the windows of his home. Soon enough, Kahrs is headed into work.
For an Arizona Public Service (APS) trouble man, this is just a day on the job.
A former trouble man and lineman who now supervises crews in Phoenix, Kahrs knows firsthand what storm season means for people working on the front lines at APS.
“At APS there are more than 6,000 people dedicated to keeping the lights on, but when the power is out, getting it back on is never simple,” Kahrs said. “You may see a crew on the side of the road next to a broken pole, but before we can fix it, we have to call Arizona 811 to dig, get a new pole delivered to our location, and assemble the proper team to fix the problem.”
Line work is a dangerous job. In addition to the safety of APS crews, Kahrs is always focused on the safety of customers.
“Many times, if a wire is down, there is no way to tell that it is energized,” Kahrs said. “You can’t see it, smell it, or hear it; it doesn’t look any different than any other wire, but it is actually energized. Assume every line is energized and stay at least 100 feet away.”
APS encourages customers to follow these five tips to stay alert and safe when storms approach, according to a news release:
Stay informed. Sign up for outage alerts at aps.com and download the APS mobile app for Android and iPhone users. The app provides quick access to many tools including the APS outage map and APS social media feeds. The outage map will provide customers with the most up-todate information during power outages.
Plan ahead. A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to safety. Create an emergency supply kit that contains non-perishable food items, water, a first-aid kit, a car charger for mobile phones, flashlights, extra batteries and any necessary medication.
Stay away from all downed lines. Treat any downed line as if it is energized and keep at least 100 feet away. If you see a downed line, call 911 first and then APS.
Keep power lines free and clear. Call APS if you notice a tree too close to APS power lines. APS will send a forestry representative to assess the situation within 10 business days. APS prunes or removes trees that are growing into high-voltage electrical distribution and transmission lines along streets, alleys and easements.
Stay safe on the road. If your vehicle comes into contact with a downed power line, stay inside the vehicle, remain calm, call 911 and then call APS.
According to Kahrs, the long hours of work come with rewards.
“After making repairs and closing a switch, you can see lights come on across a neighborhood,” he said. “I take a minute to think about how we just got the power back on for 100 or 200 people who have probably been uncomfortable, sweating and worried.”
“Electricity is such an important piece of our lives, and you don’t realize how much you rely on it until it’s out,” he added.
“Sometimes we hear cheers from people when they finally hear their AC kick back on. That is just a happy sound.”
For information about a specific outage or to report a service interruption, APS asks customers to call 855-OUTAGES or visit aps.com.
Information provided by Arizona Public Service