Case Study

Case Study: Fire Restoration at Hydro Substation

by | May 18, 2023

Techniques Used: Dry Ice Blasting

Location: Ontario

Service: Fire Restoration

Hydro substations play a critical role in the electrical grid system, as they distribute power to local areas and control the flow of electricity. When one is damaged or taken offline, issues must be solved as quickly as possible so the area the electrical substation supports gets the power it needs.

Wickens was contacted recently to support a local Ontario hydro substation where a fire had broken out and covered everything in a layer of soot oil. Our team moved quickly to adapt to their timeline and clean the substation so that repairs could be made.

The Situation

A breaker failed and started a localized fire at an Ontario hydro substation, which burned for several hours. The black, billowing smoke of the fire and an oily soot residue engulfed and coated everything at the electrical substation – the insulators, structure, and other transformers. The residue had to be cleaned not only for appearance but because the oily soot left behind is conductive and potentially dangerous when the substation is active if not removed.

Our team was contacted to perform our fire restoration services to clean the residue left behind by the fire so that the faulty switch could be replaced and the substation could get back up and running safely.

While we worked, power was diverted to other units in the region, which could handle the power while this unit was down. However, because this was a short-term solution, our team had to move quickly to complete the cleaning.

As the flames of the fire went up over 10 feet, the polylithic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that contaminated the area reached extreme heights. We had to find a way to safely dry ice blast these areas without creating additional residue.

The Solution

We chose to use dry ice blasting to perform the restoration on this project. Dry ice blasting is the most effective cleaning method for fire and smoke restoration, as it removes the residue left behind from oil, soot, PAH, and other fire residues without requiring special waste removal or toxic chemicals. Dry ice blasting is also a safe cleaning method for electrical components, as it will not damage sensitive areas like switches, wiring, sensors, and other sensitive equipment.

To accommodate the urgency of this project, we expedited the project and worked seven days a week with multiple crews blasting. Our crews consisted of 6 team members and worked 10-hour days until the project was completed.

While we worked, the station was powered down and de-energized to facilitate the quicker completion of work.

We performed a top-down approach, using scaffolding and articulated booms to reach the high areas of the station. This ensured we didn’t recontaminate any areas with PAH while we worked and ensured all residues eventually hit the ground in our containment area.

Our top-down approach ensured that once an area was cleaned, it did not need any secondary blasting, and all contaminants made it to the ground where they were removed.

As the substation had sensitive components, we used a different form of dry ice blasting to accommodate them. In these areas, we used micro pellets at a lower pressure, which provided a gentler and more precise clean.

The Results

Our team completed the fire restoration of the hydro substation in four weeks. Once the cleaning was done, the customer could replace all damaged equipment and return to normal performance on-site.

The customer was thrilled with the level of cleanliness, the turnaround time, and the dedication of our team to get the work done as quickly as possible.

Wickens Dry Ice Blasting tackles the toughest jobs across Ontario, offering fire restoration, mould remediation, asbestos abatement, lead paint abatement, and more. If you’re interested in mould removal or other restoration services, contact us today to see how we can help. We’ll work with you to come up with an optimal plan to ensure the longevity of your property while cleaning effectively.

Roger White