Friday, November 2, 2007

Monopole Safety Issues Raise Concern

American Tower 177-foot Monopole Crippled While Being Rehabilitated in Michigan

July 24, 2007 - While working on a reinforcement project to add additional capacity to a Howell, Michigan monopole, a contractor accidentally set the structure's transmission lines on fire, causing the American Tower Corporation monopole to be completely destroyed.

The fire, which started at about 9 a.m., burned itself out by 10 a.m., but left a leaning unstable 177-foot telecommunications tower that served AT&T, Sprint, and carried the internet connections for five Howell schools.

A COW (cell on wheels) is expected be placed in service until a new monopole can be installed.

"AT&T is currently cooperating with local officials and working with the vendor of the structure as they assess the safety of the tower," said AT&T Spokesperson Meghan Roskopf.

Fire officials on site said the project, under the supervision of CommStructures of Pensacola, Florida, required cutting and welding and they believe that the coaxial cable was accidentally set on fire.

Paul Roberts, Vice President of Compliance for American Tower, said there is a very low probability that the tower will topple. He said the steel structure sometimes straightens itself out when it cools following the fire.

"However, we take no chances," Roberts said. "We will keep a 250-foot clearance until we can get a crane out there and it's secured."

The tower is next to the Howell High School bus garage. Buses already parked near the monopole were not in danger, but buses that came in with students had to park farther away than usual to stay out of the way of the fire.

People in a bus garage and those students and teachers in the part of the school complex containing a swimming pool, were evacuated, police said. The school is on Highlander Way, off M-59.No injuries were reported.

Read the entire article here.