Tag Archives: Burbank Water and Power

Transformer Explosion at Power Substation Causes Outages

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Burbank fire received a call for a fire at the Burbank Water and Power Substation at 11:57 am on Friday, April 10. Soon after, there was a large explosion as one of the transformers in the substation exploded sending a fireball into the sky. There was a power surge across the City with some only losing power for seconds while others lost power for a while.

Photo courtesy Henrik Helgesen

Upon arriving on the scene, Water and Power officials advised firefighters to stand by until they were able to de-energizer the plant so they could fight the fire. There was a possibility of another explosion. Once safe to enter, firefighters made quick work of the fire, knocking down the fire at 12:35 pm.

Water and Power officials told firefighters that the oil that was on the surrounding ground was clear of PCB’s from the oil although a Hazmat response was also made by both Burbank and Glendale Fire Departments to monitor the situation. Burbank firefighters used foam to fight the fire.

The explosion caused numerous alarms to go off in the City as well as many traffic signals stopped operating.

No injuries were reported or damage to private property. Damage was estimated at $10 million to the substation. Power was rerouted through different sources.

There has not been a cause issued for the explosion yet.

Burbank Water and Power Host Open House For Ratepayers

Burbank Water and Power held an open house Saturday, October 26. Well over one thousand people attended the event. BWP opened their campus inside and out.

Guests could get their hands on equipment, climb power poles, take rides in the bucket trucks and ask  questions to learn more from the employees that run the public utility.

There were food trucks, Kona Cones and free popcorn.

The agency had electric cars on display. Burbank Police had an electric police motorcycle and the pink BMW motorcycle, recognizing breast cancer awareness month, that guests could sit on for pictures.

Here is a photo gallery from the event.

Sulfuric Acid Leak at Burbank Water & Power Handled by Hazmat Units

Burbank fire was dispatched for a full Hazardous Materials Response at 320 N. Lake St. (Burbank Water and Power) at 12:18 am Sunday morning for a report of tank containing sulfuric acid leaking.

Once firefighters arrived on scene, they determined that 1,000 gallons of the liquid acid had already been released and the tank still contained another 4,000 gallons of actively leaking acid.

(Photo Courtesy Burbank Fire Dept.)

Hazmat units from Burbank, Glendale, Vernon worked the incident along with Burbank firefighters. An L.A. County Hazmat team also arrived to oversee the final clean-up by Burbank hazmat’s unit.

Several initial attempts were made to try to stop the leak and contain the spill; however, due to the location of the leak and failure of secondary containment, firefighters were unable to stop it. Due to the toxicity of the acid, keeping it out of the storm drain was a major concern for the fire department.

Effective countermeasures kept nearly all of the product from entering the storm drain, while keeping the spill contained to the property. Battalion Chief Danny Alvarez estimated that less than 10 gallons of liquid entered the storm drain, which was very fortunate considering the spill was over 4,000 gallons.

A sump truck was requested to remove the remaining liquid in the tank and pooled product throughout the property. Burbank’s Hazmat 12 and Battalion 1 remained on scene until the tank was determined to be empty and the situation became static.

No injuries were reported and the only evacuation was the lone employee working at the Water and Power Dept. who initially reported the leak.

Gatto’s Support Lands Burbank Grant

Burbank Water and Power’s (BWP) proposed electric-vehicle (EV) “Charge N’ Go” program is back in the fast lane with the help of Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank). In February, Gatto formally requested support for the project from the California Energy Commission, which offers grants to fund certain infrastructure that helps increase the availability, stability, and sustainability of energy in the California. With a strong application and the support of community leaders like Gatto, Burbank Water and Power was awarded $163,802 in grant funding to support the project.

In his letter of support, Assemblyman Gatto cited the environmental benefits among the reasons he supports the project: “BWP’s EV Charge N’ Go project helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions while improving air quality in one of the most polluted air basins in the United States.”

Underscoring the importance and support for this and similar projects, Gatto cited Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-16-2012, which establishes an ambitious goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025. “In order to meet this goal,” said Gatto, “it is critical that California accelerates funding for electric-vehicle charging infrastructure – both public and private.”


Burbank Water and Power Attains Third Platinum LEED Certified Building on Its Ecocampus

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) just announced that the Electrical Services Building located at Burbank Water and Power’s EcoCampus has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. Platinum is the highest level attainable and is no easy feat to accomplish. Along with the Administration Building and the Service Center Building, there are now three buildings on the BWP campus that have achieved the highest certification possible from the USGBC.

“Investing in facilities that will last for decades and tread lightly on the environment, along with bringing about the most productivity from their occupants, makes good business and environmental sense” says BWP’s General Manager Ron Davis.

LEED projects receive points for specific actions taken to mitigate a building’s environmental impact.  LEED takes a comprehensive approach, awarding points for such diverse categories as stormwater management, alternative transportation, water use reduction, reduction of the heat island effect, water efficient landscaping, optimizing energy performance, construction waste management and recycling, ventilation, use of low-emitting paints, carpets,  adhesives and sealants, daylighting, and design innovation.  As sufficient LEED credits are garnered, the project is awarded one of four LEED levels: Certified, Silver, Gold or even Platinum.

By taking a campus-wide approach, features such as the solar covered parking structure that generates clean renewable energy and the extensive landscaping that provides storm water capture to recharge our ground water aquifers create shared benefits to help each of the three buildings achieve their Platinum status.

LEED, a voluntary program that provides third-party verification of green buildings, has been successfully established in 135 countries.  The goal of the program is to transform the way built environments are designed, constructed, and operated with the entire lifecycle of a building kept firmly in mind.

“I could see during my very first tour of Burbank Water and Power’s EcoCampus, the thoughtful innovation incorporated into their modernization. The EcoCampus is an evolving model of what can be accomplished when we work together to protect the environment, conserve our precious resources, and promote sustainable practices,” said California Senator Carol Liu, 25th District.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, participation in LEED “demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”  BWP is pleased to have participated in this effort and to create buildings that showcase environmental stewardship.

Burbank Police Warn Public About Fake Water and Power Employees

The Burbank Police Department has recently been made aware of individuals who are
impersonating Burbank Water and Power employees and trying to gain access to residential homes.

These individuals are informing residents that they work for Burbank Water and Power.  Some have
asked to enter a residence and check the water.  Others have asked the resident to exit their
residence and check the water main.  Another offered to give the resident money to check
something, but needed change for a $100.00 bill (likely fraudulent).  These incidents were reported
to the Burbank Water and Power department, who advised the residents that no BWP employees  had been scheduled to be at their residence.

How to Identify a BWP Representative

  •  BWP employees are required to show you their BWP identification, which includes their  photograph.
  •  Never hesitate to ask any City employee or contractor for identification before allowing them on your property.
  •  If you have any uncertainty, simply ask the individual to wait outside while you call for verification.  If you feel threatened call 911.
  • In most cases, BWP provides advance notice of the need to enter private property and typically arrive between 8:00a.m. and 6:00p.m.
  •  If you have any questions regarding a BWP employee call (818) 238-3700.

Community Bulletin - BWP Impersonators - 08-09-13

Local Residents Get an Updated Look at Reservoir Project

Everyone is always curious about what is going on behind the fence when it comes to construction projects – especially in their neighborhood.

(City of Burbank)

(City of Burbank)

With construction in full swing and nearing completion at Burbank’s Reservoir #1, located above Sunset and Palm, it has not been easy to see inside the fences.

Burbank Water and Power recognizes people’s curiosity and have arranged a series of open houses to give residents an inside look and answer any questions.  Saturday was the fourth in a series of open houses where local residents were invited to come in and look at the progress of the reservoir, which is being built to replace the old one first constructed in 1928.

Progress of the projects were shown to the residents during the open house (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Progress of the projects were shown to the residents during the open house (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Costly repairs and maintenance led the Water and Power to replace the old reservoir that was built as an earthen dam and will now be replaced as a concrete structure, that is being structurally engineered to resist strong ground shaking that can be associated with earthquakes.

This new structure will also  help the Burbank drainage system.  the water stored can be used for drinking, fire fighting and other emergencies.

View shows the design of the two structures in one  (City of Burbank)

View shows the design of the two structures in one (City of Burbank)

Reservoir Number 1 will actually two in one, with a retaining wall in between so that half of the reservoir can be taken down for maintenance while still keeping the other half working to meet the needs of customers. Presently, ‘1-A’ is near completion while ‘1-B’ has yet to have its roof installed.  When filled, each will hold approximately 4.75 million gallons of water.

According to Michael Thompson, Principal Civil Engineer for the City of Burbank and who is overseeing the project, this update was needed.

“Since the old one was built in 1928, materials are significantly better then back in 1928 and this structure will easily last for the next 100 years”

Reservoir '1-B' is about ready to have its roof installed  (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Reservoir ‘1-B’ is about ready to have its roof installed (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Thompson has overseen projects like this in the past as he previously worked for the Castic Water District before coming to Burbank, where he has lived for over 20 years. As a Burbank resident, he also knows the City and the quality of life here is important to him for the sake of local residents.  He has mandated to the construction company that while they may be on scene starting at the Burbank code allowed 7 am for work, crews are not to make any noise that will disturb residents for the first hour.

“Most people are getting up by 8 am and getting ready for work so we do what we can to stay quiet in the beginning of the morning”, said Thompson

Reservoir #1 is nearing completion as seen during the fourth open house held this past Saturday  (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Reservoir #1 is nearing completion as seen during the fourth open house held this past Saturday (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

While Reservoir #1 is being rebuilt, there are still four other reservoirs that are serving the City.  There are two located higher up on the hill, another below the ball fields at Brace Park (that holds 25 million gallons) and another below ground near Hollywood Way between Victory and Pacific that holds another 5 million gallons.

Residents were permitted to actually walk down inside ‘1-A’ and look at the enormous structure while also taking a look at ‘1-B’ which is awaiting its roof which is going to be poured soon.

Residents were able to go down inside Reservoir #1's '1-A' to see inside the massive structure that will soon hold millions of gallons of water  (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Residents were able to go down inside Reservoir #1’s ‘1-A’ to see inside the massive structure that will soon hold millions of gallons of water (Photo By Craig Sherwood)

Thompson has been working with the project since its inception and will see it through to the end. “We are currently under budget and expect completion to be on time”

Burbank Reservoir #1 is scheduled to be completed and operational by October of 2013.  A website has been set up for residents to monitor its progress at www.burbankreservoir1.com.

Interesting Fact: Both Reservoir #1 and the reservoir that sits underneath Brace Park are exactly 904 feet above ground, allowing both to work in sync.

BWP Workers Return From New York’s Long Island

Cold, tired, and full of stories, 10 electrical linemen from Burbank Water and Power (BWP) returned from New York’s Long Island after restoring power to hundreds of residents who had gone without electricity for up to 8 days. After witnessing the destruction of
Superstorm Sandy, the Burbank Crew returned home in time to spend Thanksgiving with their families and loved ones.

“I was so moved to see row after row of utility crews from across the United States there to help.” said Andrew Harmon, Line Mechanic Supervisor for BWP. “You could see it in their eyes, people were so happy to see us and we were proud to be there to help.” Burbank banded with Anaheim, Pasadena and Riverside to combine resources and send help to Long Island Power Authority to restore power to thousands of impacted residents in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

“We could not be more proud of our skilled and committed employees who volunteered for this assignment,” says Jorge Somoano, Burbank’s Assistant General Manager of Electrical Operations.

10 Burbank Electrical Workers to Help Long Island After Hurricane Sandy

On Sunday, 10 electrical linemen and work vehicles from Burbank Water and Power (BWP) were loaded onto an Air Force cargo plane at March Air Force Base headed for New York’s JFK Airport. Burbank has banded with three other local cities, each with their own public electric utility, combining resources to offer 27 “heavy crew” linemen and 16 utility work vehicles to help Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) restore power to thousands of impacted residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“Burbank, Anaheim, Pasadena and Riverside have been working continuously since Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast to offer assistance to New York,” said Ron Davis, BWP’s General Manager. The offer to help was communicated through the American Public Power Association, of which all four utilities are members.

It was less than one year ago that hurricane-force winds swept through Southern California, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving thousands without power. Through mutual aid agreements, Burbank sent linemen to Pasadena to help restore power when local resources were not enough to meet needs following the wind storm.

“We could not be more proud of our skilled and committed employees who volunteered for this assignment,” says Jorge Somoano, Burbank’s Assistant General Manager of Electrical Operations.

Crews from the four Southern California cities will hopefully be returning home in time for Thanksgiving.

Burbank Water and Power are High Voltage Kings for 2012

By Dick Dornan
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor

High risk equals high reward. Each year lineman from throughout California strap on their jeans, leather gloves, hard hats, and steel spikes to test their skills in a competition of speed, accuracy, safety, and intelligence in the Los Angeles Lineman’s Rodeo. It used to be ranch versus ranch, now it is power utility versus power utility.

Burbank Water and Power (BWP) employees can claim bragging rights after taking home several trophies, including several first place finishes in the “Apprentice” competition, at the Annual Los Angeles Lineman’s Rodeo. The winners were recognized at a recent ceremony at Burbank’s City Hall.

“The guys take it seriously and have fun doing it. There is a lot of pride involved,” said Tom Wilke, Electric Distribution Supervisor for BWP who also oversees the apprentice training program. “A lot of practice goes into it. Every event is based upon what could happen out on the field.”

The electric lineman is the image we see tethered to a pole high above the ground in windy and rainy conditions, harnessing the power of electricity and corralling it into a wire. These are the people who make sure electricity is being transferred from the generating plant to our homes and businesses.

Ryan Reid, BWP’s 1st place winner, shows off his winning trophy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

More than 25 teams from across Los Angeles converged upon Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) Truesdale Training Center in Sun Valley on April 28 to determine this year’s champions.

Hosted by LADWP and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 18, the annual event showcases the extraordinary skills and physical abilities that power utility workers, such as those who work for BWP, use every day to keep power on for residents and businesses in Southern California.

The event is divided into two categories: Apprentice and Journeyman competition. Judges determine the score for each event based upon time completion and efficiency.

The Apprentice competition includes workers who are currently in training at their respective jobs. To become a journeyman at BWP, apprentices must train for three-and-a-half years preparing to deal with 4,000 or 12,000 volts on a daily basis.

“Our guys go through a pretty strenuous program,” Wilke said. “We hire good guys. We know what type of person we are looking for.”

Burbank Water & Power’s 2012 Rodeo Winners. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Apprentice competition consisted of five events: Apprentice Written Test, Sidewalk Guy, Transformer Jumper, Hurt Man Rescue, and Pole Climb. It not only tested the participants’ skills, but also their intelligence. BWP’s sole apprentice team, consisting of Ryan Reid and Cody Cessna, came back from the event with several awards including first place in the Sidewalk Guy and Transformer Jumper events, second place in the Pole Climb event, third place in the Hurt Man Rescue event, and they topped it off when they were awarded first place in the overall category.

Climbing Spikes, a climbers second set of legs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I was excited that’s for sure,” said Reid, who has won the overall Apprentice title the last two years. “I had an idea because we were doing well throughout the day. There is a ton of pride and we love our jobs. We wanted to bring it home for BWP.”

In the Journeyman competition, teams of three Journeymen (two people on the pole, one on the ground) participated in five challenging events including Dead-end Change, Crossarm Change, Switch Change, Emergency Response Hurtman Rescue, and Pole Climb. BWP had two Journeyman teams in the competition.

Both teams performed at a consistent high level throughout the individual events resulting in a second place overall finish by the team of Howard Hull, Tim Pedersen, and Adam Lewis while their counterparts Kris Bomdahl, Edison Rosas, and Jason Edwards placed fourth overall. Both teams received perfect scores for the entire competition resulting in tiebreaker ranking via their overall accumulated times.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We are successful because of the way we run our apprentice program,” Wilke explained. “Everything we do is under the supervision of journeyman. We’ve been doing this for some time now.”

LADWP employee Ted L. Dario founded the Lineman’s Rodeo in 1991 to provide a forum where linemen could receive recognition for their technical craft skills. It also presents the opportunity for linemen to focus on the importance of safety and safe work practices.

Each year, the winning teams of local rodeos are given the opportunity to participate in the International Lineman’s Rodeo competition held in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 13. Teams from the United States, England, Australia, Canada and Jamaica compete for the honor of world’s greatest lineman. The Rodeo has grown to over 200 teams and 250 apprentices.

“I would like to go,” Reid, 25, said. “I want to represent my utility and show how good Burbank is.”


High above it all and working on power lines is Burbank Water & Power’s Ryan Reid, this years Linesman’s Rodeo first place champion. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)