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ASTM developing standard for fire resistance of wooden utility poles


February 1, 2016 – ASTM International’s Fire Committee (E05) says it is developing a standard that will test fire resistance of wooden utility poles. Utility companies and coating and treatment manufacturers will use the standard to test new products that could protect the poles.

“Utility poles are frequently exposed to high intensity wildfires throughout the world,” says ASTM member Brent Pickett. “If these poles are not properly protected, the fire could destroy them and wipe out utility services.”

Pickett explains that when a wood pole is exposed to fire, the pole degrades from the outside in. Unless a pole is coated, covered, or treated, a fire can cause the pole to fall, causing outages. This can happen even after a fire has abated, he adds, due to the fact that winds can cause wooden poles to smolder.

The committee encourages all interested parties, particularly representatives of utility companies, to join in developing the standard (WK52535, Test Method for Fire Resistance of Wood Utility Poles).

The subcommittee developing the standard is seeking data on how much deterioration is possible and acceptable before a utility pole is deemed unusable.

The next E05 meeting is June 27-30, 2016 in Chicago, Ill.