Corrosion of anchors above and below ground put many guyed structures at risk of collapse
December 28, 2006 - There has been considerable focus upon the need to inspect guyed tower anchor systems below ground to ensure that their rods or channel iron are not corroding to the point of failure. With approximately 25,000 guyed towers nationwide, many of the structures might be at risk of collapse. Guyed towers on the top of buildings are also at peril if their anchors have not been properly inspected and maintained.
In 1991, OSHA issued a Hazard Information Bulletin addressing Communication Tower Guy Anchor Corrosion . The agency was prompted to provide the HIB after learning of a North Dakota tower collapse that was caused by an anchor failure. A three-man tower crew plumbed and tensioned the structure as part of their inspection program. Two climbers then began to ascend the 350-foot tower when an anchor shaft supporting five guy wires separated where it entered the buried deadman concrete base, three feet below ground level.
The structure collapsed and the workers miraculously survived, but received serious injuries. This was not an isolated incident of industry workers almost falling to their death following a guyed tower collapse due to corroded anchorage.
During the 1990's, two climbers from an Orlando, Florida service company were dismantling a Rohn 25G structure from the roof of the City of West Palm Beach Police Department's communications division. Both men were near the top of the tower when a corroded anchor broke in two.
Please see: Climbers sue tower owner .
Absence of serious scientific avian studies is questioned by site acquisition veteran
By Leilani T. Phillips
December 20, 2006 - According to the Federal Communications Commission's NPRM WT Docket No. 03-187 , the Department of Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between 4 and 50 million migratory birds COULD be dying each year as a result of collisions with communications towers. That's a delta of 46 million. There is no scientific evidence presented.
As a matter of fact, in regards to the FCC' tower lighting and other rules that they might be considering, the FCC willingly admits the near impossibility in counting and identifying just endangered migratory birds whose deaths were caused by a collision with a communications tower.
There seems to be no concern for those birds which die from flying into windows, buildings, bridges, cars and trucks. Most likely because there is no one single Federal Agency which can be extorted or coerced into regulating those other dangers. Please see: You were here so you're culpable.
FCC sets its sights upon using white strobes as preferred lighting and restricting guyed towers
December 8, 2006 - Conservationists and vertical realtors agree that communications towers are responsible for killing many night-migrating birds estimated to represent 230 species, and additional research is needed.
Those are the only concurrences you'll find between the nature and technology groups as they prepare to square off again over the number of avian mortalities and viable solutions to prevent them from occurring following a re-launch of a Notice of Public Rulemaking by the Federal Communications Commission last month.
Spurred by environmental groups, the FCC said that it has tentatively concluded that tower owners should use medium intensity white strobe lights as the preferred lighting over red obstruction lighting systems for each new or altered registered antenna structure (See: WT Docket No 03-187 ), but it is looking for additional information before enacting that regulation.
The Federal agency believes that there is supporting data available to warrant the change to protect migratory birds from communications towers.
It also announced that to provide greater bird protection it was seeking comments upon limiting the use of guy wires on towers; marking existing guy wires with bird flight diverters; limiting the height of towers to 199' above ground level; restricting towers in specific habitats, such as wetlands, ridges and mountains; greater co-location on existing structures; an environmental assessment for new towers; and other procedural measures the Commission could take to minimize migratory bird collisions. Please see: Statistics challenged.
Station's RFR exposure signage and lack of fencing fine of $10,000 will not be reviewed
December 6, 2006 - The Federal Communications Commission denied Americom Las Vegas Limited Partnership's application for review of their $10,000 forfeiture for failing to comply with radio frequency radiation maximum permissible exposure limits at their transmission facilities near Carson City, NV. Their site was not fenced in and they did not have the proper warning signs. Please see: Opinion and Order
Fund set up for South Carolina climber whose condition is still critical, but improving
December 5, 2006 -- After falling 60-feet from a concrete monopole November 27, 36-year-old Joe Houchens is still in critical condition, but his friend, John Calvert, says the tower technician is responding to extensive surgery.
With multiple breaks in his legs and a lung punctured by pelvis, Houchens was placed in an induced coma which is expected to continue for another week, Calvert said.
A fund has been set up to assist the Houchens family and donations can be made to: Joe Houchens, c/o The Palmetto Bank, P.O. Box 128 Fountain Inn, SC 29644.
Houchens resides in Greenville, SC, with his wife Christy and their two young children, Haley and Haden
Brian Whittaker, who used to climb with Houchens and is Haden's Godparent, told WirelessEstimator.com that Houchen was a safe climber and used his fall protection equipment. He said that he had spoken with people that believe that the accident might have occurred after a step bolt failed.
Houchens fell while installing internet broadband equipment on a monopole in Brookneal, Virginia.
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Antenna structural failure topples tower's top
November 30, 2006 - Two hundred feet of the top of a Spokane, Washington guyed tower collapsed early yesterday morning knocking KSPS off the air with their analog and HDTV signals.
Approximately 300 feet of the 500-foot structure remains on Tower Mountain, a heavily populated telecommunications tower site.
Early reports from station engineers say that the new top-mounted DTV antenna suffered some sort of structural failure and severed a guy wire as it fell. The two remaining guy wires then pulled the top sections down.
No injuries were reported. Multiple broadcast antennas have failed in the past years and are being investigated by engineers to identify why. Owners are looking to recover damages if it was the manufacturer's fault.
No storms were reported at the time of the structure's collapse. Station management said the tower had been recently inspected.
Serious injuries reported following Virginia fall
November 28, 2006 - Thirty-six-year-old Joseph Houchens was airlifted to Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Virginia after falling from a 100-foot tall monopole about 2:30 p.m. yesterday.
The climber had been working on the newly installed structure, Campbell County EMS Director Jason Stroud told WirelessEstimator.com, when he suddenly fell. Stroud said the name of Houchens' employer was not available.
The monopole is located behind the Brookneal Elementary School. Brookneal Police Chief Ricky Cousins said the broadband tower, used to provide the school’s internet connection was installed approximately two weeks ago.
Stroud said that a fellow employee was on site when the accident occurred. The installer was wearing safety equipment, he said, but it is not known at what height he fell or what caused the accident.
The worker suffered severe traumatic injuries, Stroud said. Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry is investigating.
Bidders expected to cue up following National Grid's plans to unplug their wireless tower group
November 16, 2006 - During a conference call today, National Grid's Chief Executive Steve Holliday informed analysts that the fourth largest publicly held utility company in the world is expected to spin off its wireless business towards the middle of the second quarter of 2007.
A spokesman for the utility said a demerger of the wireless business was the company's preferred disposal method as it would allow shareholders the option of retaining an interest in the business.
However, he said National Grid would also consider offers for the business, which analysts estimate is worth a minimum of $2.9 billion. Please see: ATC could be suitor
ATC committee finds defective options grants, but is against management terminations
November 8, 2006 - American Tower Corp. said today an internal review of its stock option granting practices found the company maintained inadequate controls and failed to properly account for its options grants.
Although the special committee investigating ATC's questionable option granting practices began six months ago, it has not yet finalized its remediation recommendations. However, it did note that no terminations or changes in responsibilities of current executive management should be made as a result of its findings.
In May, ATC said federal regulators were probing their grants of stock options to executives, joining a growing list of companies caught up in a rapidly expanding SEC investigation of options practices. Please see: Execs knew of backdating
Fourty-year-old rigger still critical after falling from St. Louis tower atop 19-story building
November 6, 2006 - A tower technician was critically injured Saturday afternoon when he fell from a self supporting tower in downtown St. Louis, MO.
The rigger was working on the broadcast structure that was being dismantled from the top of the Marquette Building, at Olive and Broadway, a 19-story building that was recently renovated into retail stores, offices and condos.
An eyewitness says he saw the 40-year-old man fall several stories from the tower before hitting the roof of the building below.
St. Louis Fire Department public information officer Kim Bacon says the man, Sterling Westbrook, was helping to dismantle the tower when he fell approximately 50 feet. She told WirelessEstimator.com that she did not know the name of the technician's employer that was hired to remove the structure.
The worker was reportedly wearing a harness, but it is not known whether he was properly tied-off.
Other construction workers were on the tower with the victim at the time of the fall. Westbrook was transported to St. Louis University Hospital where he still remained in critical condition Sunday evening.
Police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.
WiFi contractors, suppliers and consumers are winners in Boston's Logan Airport dispute
November 4, 2006 -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled in favor of airlines running private WiFi hot spots at public airports, settling a dispute between Continental Airlines and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), but having wider implications for broadband accessibility in office complexes, shopping malls and other locations.
The 23-page decision is being lauded by many businesses, carriers, equipment suppliers and tower erection contractors who are expanding their capabilities to provide crews that are capable of providing WiFi backhaul and installation services.
Although Continental offers the free service, it is only available to its President's Club members who pay $375 per year for the privilege.
American Airlines has already said they will resume offering WiFi at its Admirals Club lounge. T-mobile, which American would most likely use, charges $6 per hour.
Logan's service is $8.00 per hour. JetBlue Airways is looking into providing free service. Please see: Massport wanted exclusivity
Deadly police shooting of cell technician investigation at Carolina tower site closed
October 26, 2006 - Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say there will always be unanswered questions about what happened inside an equipment shelter at an east Charlotte, North Carolina cell phone tower site at approximately 1:00 a.m. on July 20.
But Chief Darrell Stephens says the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's investigation into the death of Anthony Wayne Furr is finished and Officer Anthony Payne's actions were justified during a news conference today.
Payne shot and killed the 41-year-old cell tower technician while he was responding to a call to check out a suspicious vehicle that was reportedly illegally dumping, according to a resident who contacted police.
"We believe that Officer Payne's decision was lawful and within departmental guidelines. This doesn't diminish the tragedy. Mr. Furr was performing his job, so was Officer Payne," Stephens said in a prepared statement.
Police say Payne walked into the tower where Furr was working and identified himself, but Furr pointed a gun at the officer and refused orders to drop it. That's when Payne opened fire, striking Furr twice and killing him instantly.
According to Furr's autopsy report, a light was out on the outside of the building which could have made it difficult for Furr to see who was in the doorway.
Stephens says that could have made a difference, but family, friends and fellow tower workers will never know. They all say that Furr was not the type of person that would be aggressive and not respond to an officer's command. Many industry workers contacted the police chief requesting an independent investigation.
"We don't know that Mr. Furr would have been in a position to see the officer if that light had been on or not. It was not working; he was in a well-lit area looking into a dark area," Stephens said.
Attorneys for Furr's family said the family has reviewed the report and has no official comment at this time.
Cingular's cold fourth quarter could be terminal for some wireless construction contractors
October 24, 2006 - Casualties of a Cingular slowdown are beginning to surface as some construction contractors find that they're unable to keep their crews active with expected, but cancelled projects in their UMTS pipeline.
Mid-size and large construction companies such as WesTower Communications, Andrew Corporation and Radian Communication Services will not feel Cingular's budgetary belt tightening as much due to their diversified client base, but smaller contractors whose businesses primarily rely upon the build projects of one customer are already feeling the carrier's shutdown in some markets.
Last week, contractors were informed that ongoing installations and projects affecting service were to be completed, but new construction projects were on hold until the first quarter of 2007and NTPs were being cancelled.
Although Cingular had said four months ago that there would be a reduction in their capital expense budget towards the end of this year, contractors were staffing for awarded projects recently issued by the nation's largest wireless carrier.
Please see: Unchecked UMTS blamed
Reliance solely on TOWAIR tool for FAA approval is not in nation's tower owners' best interest
By Clinton Papenfuss
October 20, 2006 - Americans used an incredible number of minutes on their cell phones during the first six months of this year, 850 billion, to conduct business, keep in touch with family and friends, and for emergencies.
This would not be possible without the cell tower companies that provide the carriers’ infrastructure. As an industry, we strongly believe in safety, not only on the ground but also in the air. As a result, we take steps to ensure the flying public will be safe from our structures before moving forward in the process to choose a site for a new communications tower, regardless of the proposed height of the tower. Please see: TOWAIR is only one tool available.
Tech rescued following exhaustive 19-hour day
October 19, 2006 - A tower technician working for a regional DSL broadband provider was forced to remain on a tower for 19 hours until he was rescued early this morning in Frankfort, Indiana.
According to Frankfort Battalion Chief Rick Ham, Jeff Burnette of Advanced Computer & Communication Systems Inc. first climbed the 300-foot tower about 10 a.m. Wednesday.
He contacted his employer about 7 p.m. to say he was suffering from exhaustion and couldn't get down on his own, authorities said. Burnette said the condition occurred after working in a harness all day.
Firefighters from multiple districts responded at approximately 7:30 p.m. and by the time that they obtained the proper equipment they were able to lower Burnette from the 280-foot level of the guyed tower at 5:30 a.m. Burnette was apparently uninjured but was brought to the local hospital to be checked for hypothermia.
It is not known why Burnette did not have a co-worker or designated employee on site to be able to respond to an emergency. Had the technician passed out on the structure he could have easily died from suspension trauma or other causes.
GTP dashes rumors their company is for sale
October 17, 2006 - Global Tower Partners quelled speculation today that the industry's fourth largest tower company is seeking to be acquired.
GTP's chief executive, Marc Ganzi, informed WirelessEstimator.com, "The stories of our impending sale for $1.5 billion were wildly false and exaggerated. Management and the Blackstone Group have every intention of growing the business."
Following a Bloomberg.com news report October 12, that "two people familiar with the firm's plans" said that GTP, owned by Blackstone Group L.P., was seeking to be acquired and an analyst pegged the value of the transaction to be $1.5 billion, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal picked up the story the same day and it rapidly spread throughout the world with some media turning conjecture into a contract ready to be inked.
Bloomberg reported that Blackstone had hired Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for GTP or assess the possibility of offering an IPO. Rumors quickly surfaced that American Tower Corp. or SBA would want to court a GTP acquisition.
ATC will lose its coveted No. 1 tower position if Crown Castle International Corp.'s recent announcement that it is buying Global Signal Inc. for about $5.8 billion in stock and cash is completed. SBA is also in an acquisition mode having recently purchased the assets of AAT, but if ATC were to acquire SBA it would take the lead again by approximately 6,000 towers.
Ganzi said that Blackstone and GTP have had an ongoing relationship with Morgan Stanley and have sought the banker's advice, but they have no intention of selling the company at this time. However, he did say that a public offering is being explored.
Recently appointed to the board of directors of PCIA, Ganzi emphasized that GPT will continued to expand, adding, "We like the environment now-more than ever-with one less competitor around."
GTP announced last week that it has signed an agreement to purchase 83 towers from Midwest Tower Partners, LLC. After the Midwest acquisition closes, GTP will own, manage and master lease some 10,400 sites throughout the United States, including over 2,200 owned communications towers.
American Tower's long-dominant lead to be challenged
Crown Castle International to acquire Global Signal in $5.8 billion-plus deal
October 6, 2006 -Crown Castle International Corp. and Global Signal Inc. announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Crown Castle to acquire Global Signal in a stock and cash transaction valued at approximately $5.8 billion, including debt. The deal brings together two of the nation's leading tower companies, with over 24,000 wireless sites.
The combined company will surpass American Tower Corp.'s dominant tower count in the industry if the acquisition is successful. ATC has 22,000 sites. The next largest tower owner is SBA Communications Corp with 7,200 structures.
The combined company will have a high-quality portfolio of wireless towers that are well-positioned for expected growth, with 16,240 of its towers in the top 100 BTA's, the most of any tower company. Please see: Global's stock jumps.
Michigan man succumbs after pipe mount inverts
October 5, 2006 - A young Michigan man was killed Monday afternoon after he fell from a communications structure in Westland, MI, according to sources familiar with the accident.
The 23-year-old worker, Darryl Hunt of Higgins Lake, had been working on a T-frame on a T-Mobile monopole project when he fell to his death.
The tower technican was said to be tied off to a vertical antenna pipe mount attached to the frame and may have slipped. The pipe then became inverted and Hunt's personal protection equipment came lose from its anchorage point.
Hunt was employed by Skyline Antenna and Line of Fowlerville, MI. MIOSHA is investigating the accident.
Friends of Hunt said that his family could use assistance to defray burial expenses. Contributions can be sent to his mother, Mrs. Jane Hunt, 7978 Loxley, Higgins Lake, MI 48627.
Hunt was the 18th communications worker to die from falling from a structure this year.
You say potato and I'll say cash flow
October 5, 2006 - It's the prosperous wind beneath this industry's sails and tower companies have an insatiable appetite for them: collocations - multiple tenants on a single structure. Or are they really seeking colocations or possibly co-locations and they're just not sure?
A freelance writer from New York questioned the correct spelling of collocation, an inquiry that we thought she could have easily obtained with a dictionary or Google search, but we now appreciate her communications conundrum.
Many tower companies use collocation, but some prefer colocation and one major tower company prefers to be an equal opportunity employer of both words, extolling their strong collocation growth achieved by colocation procedures they pioneered that are being used by public tower companies today.
Wireless Week, RCR News and other media use all three spellings. In searching 25 years of the New York Times' archives, collocation - a term that is more commonly used to describe an arrangement of words, especially those that commonly co-occur, such as black and white, site rings and tower dogs - has never appeared relative to towers.
Our thoughts? Collocation [kol-uh-key-shuhn], like avian mortality, doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as colocation [koh-loh-key-shuhn], and we've never heard tower owners describe another tenant as a new collo, but a co-lo, so we're going to opt for colocation.
While site leasing managers attend to more important matters, time will resolve what spelling becomes the standard.
Cell site bear stories bear little credibility
September 29, 2006 - Many hundreds of wireless industry workers opened emails during the past two weeks only to find attachments of photographs or pictures within the message of an electrocuted brown bear. The forwarded emails contained short messages such as: "Bear ends life at cell site," "Verizon Missouri problems," "Failed power at a site," and "Cell site bear."
Dozens were received by WirelessEstimator.com, some with messages regarding locations; one even provided the amperage that killed the 600-pound brown bear. Another emailer provided a September 8 date for the bear's demise. One was broadcast with the message, "#$!%, just when we're getting a handle on avian mortality we get this. What next, bear-proof breaker boxes?"
What was quickly becoming a cell site urban legend unraveled this week. The photographs are real; the bear did bite into an electrical line, but in a state park in Anchorage, Alaska. The 7-foot bruin was found August 10 by a young girl riding her bicycle along a path.
The bear bit into 5,000 volts of energy, according to a Chugach Electric Association spokesman Phil Steyer, who said the apparatus did not belong to the company, but likely to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the owner of the land where the bear was found.
Top four tower titans see a robust future fueled by data and AWS spectrum auction
September 25, 2006 - Last year's state of the tower industry report offered an extended level of comfort. Last week's PCIA production of enthusiasm almost required a cautionary forward-looking statement as the big four CEOs presented an overly upbeat financial forecast through 2010 during the wireless infrastructure show's keynote address in Nashville.
"We have seen over the last couple of years what appears to be a settling in of steady carrier improvements to their networks obviously fueled by a great uptake by consumers' wireless devices as we move to data. And we really see the next several years playing out much like the last year, which I think, speaking for all of us, we've enjoyed quite a bit in the wireless industry," said Jeffrey Stoops, President and CEO of SBA Communications Corporation.
Another event that further underscored Stoop's optimism was the AWS auction that was recently concluded where $13.7 billion was spent on spectrum. "When you put it to use over time that is only going to help to fuel that continued investment by our customers in their infrastructure," said Stoops who serves as the advocacy association's chairman. Please see: Data is driving development.
Siting concerns should be allayed by RFE base station findings released by PCIA at annual confab
September 23, 2006 - The Wireless Infrastructure Association (PCIA) announced the initial results of its literature review commissioned to summarize the studies addressing the potential health effects of radio frequency emissions from wireless telecommunications base stations.
Specifically, this project reviewed the current literature discussing the environmental effects of electromagnetic emissions (EME), specifically radiofrequency emissions (RFE) associated with mobile telephone base stations, to determine the extent to which, if any, wireless telecommunications facilities pose human health risks from current RFE exposures.
The reviewed publications, including those prepared by government agencies, consistently concluded that there is no convincing evidence that RFE exposure from mobile telecommunication base stations presents a hazard to the general population.
The review itself concludes: “As of this date, it is our opinion that there is virtually no reliable, scientific reason to conclude that RFE emissions produced by wireless base station facilities present a significant health risk.”
Mike Fitch, President & CEO of PCIA responded, “PCIA hopes that this important data will assuage the sometimes emotional fears about RF, and that this issue will no longer have any impact on decisions on wireless infrastructure siting.”
Industry keeps watch as FAA lighting compliance is probed in Texas suit by kin of three soldiers
September 18, 2006 - Tower owners and obstruction lighting and monitoring companies throughout the nation will be closely watching lawsuits filed by attorneys for family members of three soldiers who were killed in an Army Black Hawk helicopter when it crashed after striking the guy wires of a 1,738 foot television tower near Waco, Texas during November of 2004.
The crash, which did not collapse the structure, occurred on an overcast morning in rural McLennan County, approximately 20 minutes into the Army helicopter's flight to Texarkana. Four other military men also died in the crash.
The lawsuit , filed earlier this month in state District Court in McLennan County, TX, names Centex Television Limited Partnership, which owns KXXV-TV in Waco; KSWO Television of Texas Inc., an Oklahoma corporation and member of the partnership; and KSWO Television Co. Inc., which owns all shares of KSWO Television of Texas Inc.
The suit says the TV station did not observe the Federal regulations and other guidelines that are in place to ensure aircraft safety.
Please see: Exigency vs. FAA Policy.
Eighteen-year-old Georgian falls to his death September 18, 2006 - Richard Allen Catoe, 18, of Toccoa, GA., died Sunday after falling inside a pedisphere water tower in Pensacola, FL.
Catoe was installing communications equipment on the University of West Florida tower off of Campus Drive for Verizon when he fell.
University officials say the Ferry Pass Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene and stabilized Catoe. He was transported to the East Florida emergency room, but succumbed from his injuries.
Catoe reportedly fell approximately 100 feet. He was employed by Utility Service Co, Inc. of Perry, GA. Investigators will check to see if he was wearing the required personal protective equipment.
The young climber is the 17th communications worker to die from falling from a structure this year, the second technician to die after falling inside a water tower. On May 2 a 51-year-old Iowa worker was killed after falling 40' into an access tube.
Sector frame collapse seriously injures technician
September 12, 2006 - Authorities say a U.S. Cellular worker remains in critical condition following a fall from a monopole in Milwaukee after a section of a mounting frame collapsed.
The Jefferson County cell technician was reported to be conscious and alert when he was rushed to Froedtert Hospital Friday afternoon by emergency personnel.
While performing routine work on the lower mounting frame of a three-tenant cell site near the intersection of Burleigh St. and Weil St., an entire sector broke lose crashing to the ground.
The worker was reportedly tied off to the frame and plummeted with the mounting structure and antennas to the base of the monopole.
U.S. Cellular and OSHA are investigating the incident. Although there have been numerous accidents where a worker has fallen while installing a new frame or antennas on an existing one, industry contractors cannot recall a mounting frame collapsing once it has been secured to the structure.
Investigators will be assessing the mounting frame's installation as well as the frame itself to identify possible causes for the failure.
Day of remembrance includes American Tower subsidiary's 13 employees who died on September 11
September 11, 2006 - The pain of the world will be revisited each year on this day of remembrance and prayer, especially for those at a tower company who knew many of those people in a sister company who died in the collapse of the twin towers.
General Telecom, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, with headquarters on the 83rd floor of One World Trade Center, lost 13 employees after a plane commandeered by terrorists crashed into the tower on September 11, collapsing the 110-story building.
Please see: Contractors were meeting on 9/11.
DA says he will not file charges against Charlotte officer that killed an AFL Network Services tech
September 5, 2006 - Mecklenburg County North Carolina's District Attorney Peter Gilchrist has decided to not press charges against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Anthony Payne for the fatal shooting of Anthony Wayne Furr on July 20, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Captain Cam Selvey.
At approximately 1:30 a.m., Furr, a technician employed by AFL Network Services, was working inside a 12'x20' cellular equipment building in east Charlotte. A 911 caller reported to police that someone was dumping refuse at the tower and was trespassing.
When officers arrived, Officer Anthony Payne, in uniform, went inside the equipment shelter where he was reportedly confronted by Furr after identifying himself as a police officer.
Payne said Furr had a gun and did not respond to his commands to put the gun down. The officer drew his own weapon and fired three times, killing the Oakboro resident and father of two children.
Please see: Internal investigation continues.
Citations waived following death of Virginia rigger
September 5, 2006 - The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has decided no citations will be issued as a result of a deadly tower accident on March 27, 2006.
Forty-eight-year-old Michael Hinsberger and 60-year-old Gregory Harrington hadfinished installing an antenna on a radio tower in Martinsville, when the cable they were being lowered with broke.
The fall killed Harrington after both men fell about 30 feet.
Investigators found the wire rope the two men used did not meet required standards for hoisting employees.
No citations were issued though because Harrington was the sole owner of the company, Sky Tower Service of Lynchburg, VA.
They had just completed installing a 30' broadcast antenna for WYAT-TV on the 403' WMVA-AM radio tower when the accident occurred.
300 towers in Boeing's border protection bid
September 1, 2006 - Boeing Co. says it could have a network of sensors and radar
installed along the U.S. borders in less than three years if it wins a security contract worth about $2.5 billion that is expected to be awarded later this month. It will include a network of 300 towers on the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. Tower manufacturers, who have benefited by numerous Homeland Security contracts, will be queuing up to provide proposals for the surveillance structures. Some of the structures will be mobile, but different then the one pictured below that is currently in use by the U.S. Border Patrol.
Boeing is competing for the approximately $8 billion contract which will also secure maritime borders with teams led by Raytheon Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Sweden's Ericsson AB and Northrop Grumman Corp.
Iowa firm fined $3,000 following death of three
September 1, 2006 - Deters Tower Service of Iowa has been fined $3,000 by Iowa's Occupational Safety and Health Bureau as a result of a fatal fall from a guyed tower near Oakland, Iowa on May 31.
Three members of the crew, including the company's owner, Leo Deters, were killed after falling approximately 1,100 feet.
State OSHA officials said the company violated workplace rules by using a deficient cable hoist to lift crew members to the top of the tower.
Investigators also said the company violated the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Act by allowing an employee to climb the tower's ladder without the proper safety equipment.
A representative for the company said today that the deceased owner's wife, Mary Deters, has no interest in continuing the business and is placing the tower maintenance company up for sale.
Methods for chasing waveguide leaks vary; some may not be safe for systems or technicians
August 29, 2006 - In a perfect RF world, transmission lines and antennas that are pressurized with dry air or nitrogen to eliminate arcing and minimize corrosion caused by moisture will assist in providing a high quality signal and low VSWR for years to come.
Unfortunately, there are more than a few operational pitfalls that can quickly shorten the life of the waveguide and RF system such as seam weld issues, blown antenna feed horns, defective O-rings and popped out pressure windows.
Add to those causes lightning, poor quality installations, birds with an insatiable appetite for pecking on copper and disgruntled hunters intent upon bagging a ferocious feed line, and you'll find empty nitrogen tanks and dehydrators that can't maintain pressure.
Finding an elusive leak can be an expensive time-consuming and difficult job and oftentimes the methods used aren't always the safest, say industry professionals.
Please see: Sent up for scent of a woman.
Tornado takes out ATC and Mediacom towers
August 29, 2006 - A tornado ripped through Le Suer and Nicollet counties in Minnesota Thursday killing a ninety-year-old Lake Emily man, injuring dozens of other residents, and destroying homes and crops. The storm also ruined two communications towers.
Initial reports say two 300' guyed towers in the same St. Peter field were felled when an American Tower Corporation tower collapsed into a guyed structure owned by Mediacom. The cable TV's structure was not operational. No injuries were reported. Nextel was one of the numerous tenants displaced when the tower fell.
Four cell site on wheels (COWS) and other temporary communications equipment have been put in place at the site.
The single tornado traveled 30 miles on the ground, the National Weather Service has determined. A tornado damage expert said that the tornado traveled from three miles west of Nicollet, went through that city and touched the southern edge of St. Peter and the northern edge of Kasota before it finally dissipated five miles northwest of Waterville. See: Additional photos.
Rookie's first time climb is back again on boards
August 25, 2006 - Tower climbers have been featured in numerous national broadcast ads - from insurance to wireless carrier messages, but one particularly creative use of tower maintenance workers to promote a product was in the 2001 Coca-Cola ® commercial created by Carmichael Lynch of Minneapolis, MN.
The humorous broadcast ad, recently discussed on Yahoo bulletin boards, rewards the rigger with a Coke after his first climb. It is sure to trigger safety purist profanity as it did five years ago and promote contemptuous posts from others who believe creative licensing should only be enjoyed by the FCC.
For those tower workers who can recall their first climb, the commercial is a fairly accurate portrayal of the overwhelming desire to maintain three points of contact. The new climber's bird like grip would often result in aching fists in the morning.
Start spreading the news
New York reigns again as the king of the highest priced wireless construction projects in the nation
August 4, 2006 - Successful wireless construction contractors know the problems, delays and added costs required when providing services in New York City and agree with Frank Sinatra's inimitable advice, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere."
Unfortunately, startup companies that are unaware of Gotham's price gouging for labor and materials when they bid projects end up singing the little town blues as they watch their anticipated profit head south. Please see: Lowest and highest construction cities.
Two dangerous jobs...one needs to be investigated
July 25, 2006 - Early Thursday morning a North Carolina police officer thought 41-year-old Anthony Wayne Furr was about to kill him when he reportedly raised a 32 caliber handgun at the veteran officer. He made a split second decision and fired three bullets at the cell site technician, instantly killing him inside an equipment shelter in a dodgy part of town.
Some people believe it was a tragic accident since commercial air conditioning and communications equipment noise prevented Furr from hearing the officer's demand to drop his weapon that he carried for protection. Trying to look out into the night while inside a brightly lit equipment room could have also restricted Furr's vision.
Police say their initial investigation shows that Officer Anthony Payne followed police procedure and acted in a matter of self-defense. Others believe he used deadly force and should be accountable for Furr's death.
Furr's reportedly threatening actions can't be reconciled with his church and community devotion and his outgoing and respectful personality. In addition, the officer had to see the clearly lettered network services truck with a 1-800 number, at the front entrance to the cell site.
A trained eye might have seen that there was only one entranceway for the approximately 12'x20' equipment shelter, yet the officer elected to go through the open door with his gun drawn while investigating a 911 call for illegal dumping.
There are too many events that do not make sense.
Something went terribly wrong inside that communications shelter and Wayne Furr can't tell us what happened. To ensure public confidence, an independent inquiry should be held to find out what happened that fateful morning.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Furr's family, friends and coworkers. We also pray for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer who is devastated by having to confront a policeman's worst nightmare - having to take a life in the line of duty. He and all police deserve respect for working in a demanding and dangerous job.
However, Wayne Furr also had a demanding and - what he knew from experience in the field - dangerous job by having to work alone in high crime areas.
An independent inquiry by the NC State Bureau of Investigation will assure public and police confidence. Its prominence will also let law enforcement officers throughout the nation become more aware of the need to protect the many thousands of men and women that are working at night in cell and other communications site compounds so that public safety communications remain uninterrupted.
You can express your desire for an independent investigation by emailing Chief Darrel Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org .
AFL Network Services technician shot to death by police inside Sprint equipment compound
July 21, 2006 - Forty-one-year old Anthony Wayne Furr of Oakboro, North Carolina was sent early Thursday morning to work at a Sprint cell site in a rough section of Charlotte. The experienced and professionally dressed AFL Network Services' technician parked his vehicle in front of the wood fenced compound and was performing routine maintenance in the equipment shelter with the lights on and with the door open.
It was to be a normal late night and early morning project. But Furr was unable to complete it after he was gunned down by a police officer who believed that he was about to be shot.
The tragedy occurred after a resident saw Furr's vehicle, thought his actions looked suspicious and called police at 1:00 a.m. Three officers responded and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Anthony Payne looked through the open door into the equipment shelter and saw a man, later identified as Furr, inside.
Please see: Police say he wouldn't drop weapon.
Some are just biting the petroleum bullet
Tower companies are tackling ways to be
compensated for record high fuel costs
July 21, 2006 - Economists will proudly explain that in real inflation-adjusted dollars, gas and diesel prices are the same or lower today than in most previous decades, but it's not a balm for wireless contracting businesses who must cope with fuel prices that have topped $3.00 per gallon in many areas of the country.
Of thirty six companies that responded to a survey this week by WirelessEstimator.com, the majority replied that they are raising their prices accordingly to accommodate the fuel increases.
That may work for companies in a less-competitive environment or in evaluating pricing for multi-state mobilizations, but some contractors say that highly aggressive bidding for universal mobile telecommunications system work in some markets is not allowing contractors to figure in the increased price of fuel and it requires them to reduce their profit in an already thin margin sector.
Please see: Increases must be passed on.
Two AM towers toppled following severe storm
July 20, 2006 - Two 450' self supporting towers collapsed in Madison, Illinois following a severe storm that swept through the area Wednesday night.
KTRS (550 AM) said that two of their four towers used to transmit the signal of the Cardinals flagship radio outlet were toppled, requiring the station to lower its power at night.
The downed towers, located about a half-mile from Gateway International Raceway, were part of an array that operates at 5,000 watts and has no directional restrictions during the daytime.
During the evening one of the one of the four towers is used to send signals in all directions while the other three are used to transmit one way - north, west or south. The Federal Communications Commission does not allow KTRS' signal to be sent very far to the east at night in order to protect a station in Cincinnati that also operates at 550 AM.
KTRS received a temporary permit today from the FCC to broadcast in all directions at night. But in order to get that exemption, it must reduce its power at night to 1,250 watts in order not to intrude on the Cincinnati station. It had been operating at 5,000 watts around the clock.
The towers appeared to fail at the base and lay straight down into an open field.
IRS independent contractor reversal and fines could topple Southwestern erector's business
July 12, 2006 - A small and relatively successful Southwestern tower erection and maintenance company is staving off bankruptcy after the Internal Revenue Service disallowed the independent contractor status of some of its subcontracted labor and assessed the company $36,700 in back taxes and penalties last May after investigating a nine month period during 2005.
"I wasn't trying to take advantage of the subs that I used. In fact, they averaged $38.00 (per hour) or even higher," explained the frustrated 42-year-old owner who requested that his and the company's name not be published.
The owner/foreman, whose business has been established for four years, said he was forced to subcontract workers at higher pay scales after he was unable to employ full time technicians to complete his company's contractual obligations for a UMTS buildout.
Please see: Crews flagged in audit
Evansville, Indiana technician is 2006's 16th fatality
June 27, 2006 - An Indiana man is dead after a weekend accident on WTVY's tower in Bonifay, Florida.
Workers with an Indiana company, S&W Tower and Maintenance, were trying to remove WDJR-FM's radio antenna so the equipment could be re-located to the station's new tower nearby.
But a spokesman for the Holmes County sheriff's department says the equipment somehow shifted and 30-year-old David Brown Jr. Of Evansville, Indiana fell about 500-feet to his death. Brown's 27-year-old widow said that he was being hoisted up the tower when he fell. Brown leaves behind three children.
The accident occurred about ten o'clock Sunday morning. Sixteen workers have died this year from falling from a communications structure.
Ground crew member spared death following
60-foot fall after being dragged up by load line
June 21, 2006 - An 18-year-old Mahomet, IL tower worker was seriously injured last Tuesday evening after he fell approximately 60 feet from a Rochester 340' tower owned by American Tower Corporation following an abnormal incident that has safety experts shaking their heads in awe as to how it occurred.
According to Rochester Police Chief Bill Marass, Beherns was working as a ground-crew member along with his supervisor while two other men were on the tower awaiting materials that they were going to install.
"There was some equipment they were taking up to install on the tower and he either got caught up or was hanging on the line," Marass said.
The men on the tower needed equipment, and Beherns and the supervisor started to raise it up to them on a truck-powered winch line.
Beherns reportedly was caught on the load line when his foreman yelled for him to let go; however he could not untangle himself and was hoisted approximately 60 feet above the ground when "he parted ways," Chief Marass said. He did not release the name of the company Beherns was working for.
It was not known why his co-worker was unable to stop the winch.
Hospital officials at Springfield Memorial Medical Center said that Beherns was in stable condition following lower back surgery. However, the rigger, who recently completed his first year of college and planned on running in the Chicago Marathon in October, also received multiple factures to his legs and ankles.
Extensive injuries to his legs and an infection required amputation of his left leg six inches below the knee. Doctors are still unsure if they can save his right leg. Beherns is said to be in stable condition. Respiratory difficulties over the weekend required doctors to put him in a drug-induced coma and on life support.
The incident is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
A Salt Lake, UT engineer was also hospitalized last Tuesday as well for back injuries when he fell approximate 25 feet from a TV broadcast tower.
Broadcast tower collapse topples sister structure in Georgia demolition attempt using explosives
June 7, 2006 - What appeared to be a newly written textbook example of how to demolish a 1,000-foot-tall broadcast tower that had interlaced guy wires with another 1,000-foot tower less than 150-feet away, turned into a catastrophe this evening when both towers collapsed during the demolition.
The greater portion of the WALB tower fell within a radius of 75'.
Controlled Demolition, Inc. of Maryland had been contracted to remove the WFXL-TV broadcast tower in Doerun, GA after it had been structurally damaged after an Army Chinook helicopter crashed near the top of the guyed tower last Thursday, killing four servicemen.
Four days of extensive engineering and equipment planning preceded today's demolition. Eighteen explosive charges had been placed on the tower's north nine guy wires so that the structure would fall to the south aided by the momentum of a 6,800-pound antenna that was already leaning 60-inches in that direction. Please see: Demolition.
Georgia TV tower found not to be salvageable,
demolition by explosives plan being readied
June 3, 2006 - A Doerun, GA 1,000-foot-tall broadcast tower that was severely damaged on Thursday morning after a MH-47E Chinook helicopter crashed into it is not salvageable, experts say.
According to R. David Stiles, president of ProCom Towers International, Inc. of Chattanooga, TN, it has been determined that the structure is too heavily damaged to safely stabilize the tower and it will be demolished in a controlled demolition using explosives.
Stiles said that helicopter companies have refused to assist in removing WFXL's 6,800-pound antenna until the tower was stabilized. However, he said that tower riggers could not install a replacement guy wire for one that was sheared off following the crash without risking their lives as well.
Please see: Tower to be demolished
Chopper crash kills four, requiring a complicated rigging plan to save the fate of two towers
June 2, 2006 - Four members of an elite unit, known as the Night Stalkers, died yesterday when their MH-47E Chinook helicopter struck a broadcast tower in Doerun, GA. The tactical units fly Special Forces commandos behind enemy lines under cover of night.
The Army crew was flying a training mission from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA., to Fort Rucker, AL, the United States Army Special Operations Command said, when it crashed into the WFXL TV's 1,000-foot-tall broadcast tower that is surrounded by cow pastures and cotton fields.
The co-pilot, the only survivor of the violent 8:00 a.m. crash, has an abrasion on his forehead, a scraped arm, and an injury to the back of his leg, according to a woman on the scene who rendered assistance to him. He was treated and released from a local medical facility.
Please see: Tower could fail
Well-respected tower company owner succumbs in fall
Synthetic rope failure being investigated as cause for three tower technicians falling 1,100 feet
June 1, 2006 - Three Iowa men were killed yesterday afternoon after they fell 1,100 feet from a television tower near Oakland, IA, according to Pottawattamie Countysheriff's officials who said they received a call at 2:43 p.m. that the workers had fallen from an Iowa Public Television tower, five miles east of Oakland.
Pottawattamie Sheriff Jeff Danker said that two other workers on the ground witnessed the accident, but he did not have any immediate information as to how the accident occurred.
The tower crew members, Leo Deters, 57, of Norwalk, Jason Galles, 27, of Des Moines, and Jon McWilliams, 19, of Cumming, died in the accident.
Galles and McWilliams were employees of Deters Tower Service of Des Moines, IA owned by Leo Deters who fell with his men yesterday.
Please see: Iowa Tragedy .
Conversations with ladies of the height
Neither glass nor cloud ceilings prevent women tower climbers from excelling in the industry
May 28, 2006 - In the past year there have been less than a dozen tower site sightings of women climbers. Like the elusive unicorn, from a distance, the ladies of the height are difficult to spot when working alongside their male counterparts since they're known to camouflage themselves in competence and safe working practices, and work as hard and as long as any other crew member.
So why are there only roughly 9 women in a national workforce of nearly 9,000 for-hire climbers in a profession that pays upwards of $40,000 or more a year? Physical demands? For some women, yes; but it also applies to men as well. Frightened of heights? Same answer. Poor organizational and multi-tasking skills? There's no divide there. In reality, a number of employers say that they've found some women climbers to be more organized than men - a blessing when it now takes a tree's worth of paper to manage a two-day installation project.
Please see: Women hard to target.
Worker dies in fall from cell tower in Vicksburg
May 25, 2006 -- An Indiana man has died from injuries suffered in a fall from a cell phone tower in Vicksburg, Mississippi that he was painting, according to Warren County Coroner John Thomason.
Thomason said Jack Pellow, 48, of Dale, Ind., fell about 50 feet yesterday. He was pronounced dead at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.The 90 foot structure, owned by Global Signal, was located on top of a small building that once housed a radio station.
Pellow had subcontracted to paint the tower by National Tank and Tower of Evansville, Ind., said company president Sam Dorris, according to published reports. Pellow's co-worker, Dennis Dean, was on the ground, saw Pellow fall and called 911.
"He was about halfway down (the tower) and I looked up and saw the knot on the second rope came loose and he fell about 50 feet," Dean explained. The two had been in Mississippi since the weekend and had resumed the paint job just a few hours before the fall after taking Monday and Tuesday off, he said.
The paint job was part of routine maintenance mandated by federal regulations, Dorris said.The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the accident. Pellow was the 12th fatality this year of a worker falling from a communications structure. There were four deaths in May.
SEC and US Attorney investigating American Tower's executives' stock option grants
May 23, 2006 - American Tower Corporation is facing scrutiny by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission to identify whether the nation's largest tower site owner backdated stock option grants to its executives.
On Friday, American Tower said that it had received a letter of informal inquiry from the SEC requesting documents relating to its stock option grants and practices. They also announced today that they have received a subpoena from the U.S. State Attorney. The Boston-based business was one of 12 companies that had been contacted by the SEC or by a U.S. attorney's office. Three more companies were contacted yesterday in the SEC's widening investigation.
Please see: Illegal backdating investigated.
Resurgence of interest in FACE reports rooted in rising tower climber fatality count
May 10, 2006 - Although their last tower climber fatality analysis was of a deathoccurring almost three years ago, the National Institute of Safety and Health's FACE reports are receiving renewed interest by company owners and safety instructors as they strive to employ detailed fatality information to help stem this year's rising death rate of climbers.
NIOSH's dozen Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) reports provide an excellent resource for studying the decedent's work environment, the tools he was using and the role of his employer in controlling how these factors interacted.
Although the reports provide a detached analysis of an accident, the particulars can supply a disturbing narrative for people who have suffered the loss of a loved one or co-worker. Please see : Information helps to save lives.
Broadband climber succumbs following 90' fall
May 6, 2006 - A Lebanon, Pennsylvania tower climber became the nation's eleventh fatality this year when he fell 90 feet off a self supporting tower in Ebensburg yesterday.
According to Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski, twenty-five-year-old Michael Sellers fell to his death about 10:00 a.m. while preparing to install an antenna for his employer, Sting Communications Inc. of Lebanon.
It is not known if Sellers was tied off to the tower. The coroner was informed by a second Sting Communications employee on site that he was "feeding up the safety rope," according to published reports.
Please see Fall protection capability disputed.
Two more deaths sadly raises 2006 fatalities to ten
May 3, 2006 - A tower climber fell to his death yesterday morning in Kentucky; five hours later another technician died after falling inside of an Iowa water tower.
Authorities say a 23-year-old Tennessee tower climber fell 380' to his death in Central City, Kentucky at 10:30 a.m. He was employed by Tower Services, Inc. of Hixson, TN.
The Muhlenberg County Coroner identified the deceased as Michael Allen Sulfridge of Harrogate, TN.
At 3:25 p.m., 51-year-old Michael Broughton of Des Moines, Iowa, was working for Murphy Construction, of Carlisle, when he fell 40' inside of a Lawson community water tower while he was working on a Cingular Wireless antenna and line installation project.
The Woodbury County Sheriff's office said that four men on the crew were feeding a coaxial line inside of the water tower when the technician fell inside an access tube of the pedisphere tower and died after hitting a landing.
His coworkers provided CPR until emergency medical service personnel arrived. The Woodbury County Medical Examiner's Office pronounced him dead at the scene. The sheriff's office and OSHA are investigating the death. In addition to being tied off 100% of the time, installation ofantenna systems on water towers requires additional skill sets and safety practices.
The Iowa man's death sadly raised the number of climbers that have been killed this year from falling from a communications structure to ten. During all of 2005 only seven climbers died.
Daring 700 MHz spectrum plan could result in largest tower and construction windfall ever seen
A pril 28, 2006 -- If Morgan O'Brien's mission of persuading Congress to set aside a slice of radio spectrum worth billions of dollars and use private money to builda nationwide wireless network for first responders ever becomes a reality, it would create a wireless construction boom without equal.
The wireless maverick that helped found Nextel Communications, Inc. suggested during a news conference yesterday in Washington that the government should choose one company - ideally his new venture, Cyren Call Communications LLC - to solicit as much as $20-$25 billion in investment capital needed to build about 37,000 wireless towers to cover the country. Please see:Plan has its share of opponents.
Minimum increase possibly 17%
Six year copper high forcing wireless manufacturers to immediately raise pricing
April 26, 2006 - During the past two months, wireless manufacturers and distributors knew they were going to have to raise their pricing on products that required copper. Many of them were cautiously viewing their competitors' price lists to identify what increases were being published. Others were holding out until they could assess if copper prices had peaked and were ready for a cyclical downturn.
Yesterday, the question was no longer, should they increase their prices, it was how quickly can they, and what percentage would be palatable as copper soared more than 6%, the most in more than six years. Threats to supplies from Chilean and Mexican mines prompted near-term copper futures in New York to jump 19.5 cents to a record $3.41 a pound. Please see: One year increase tops 60%.
Careless welding destroys Maryland monopole
April 14, 2006 - What began as a retrofitting project on a 125' monopole for one contractor in Temple Hills, MD, ended up with a project for another contractor to remove the structure this evening after careless welding procedures ignited the monopole's transmission lines at 11:00 a.m.
Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady says that a tower contractor had been doing welding work on the tower owned by Cingular Wireless when coaxial cables ignited inside the structure.
At one point the top of the monopole was listing close to 20 degrees due to the intense heat inside the structure. In addition to Cingular, Sprint and another wireless carrier are co-located on the monopole. Coaxial lines reportedly caught fire while the contractor was cutting a new transmission line port at the base of the pole.
It took the fire department 35 minutes to extinguish the blaze. Bystanders watched as the structure returned to a plumb position as water was applied from a snorkel truck to the top of the structure to extinguish the burning coaxial lines.
A cell on wheels (COW) is being erected at the site to provide temporary cellular coverage in the high capacity industrial and residential area. Another monopole with one tenant is located approximately a quarter mile from the damaged structure.
A few tower owners are requesting "low heat welding" to reduce the risks due to a rash of tower fires in the industry. However, there aren't any standards for procedures that offer low heat. The American Welding Society does not define processes as high heat or low heat as provided for in some specifications. Also, using oxy-fuel gas or plasma cutting on tower structures is oftentimes prohibited. It was not known if the contractor working on the Temple Hills structure was using fire retardant blankets. For additional information, see: Elevated Welding .
There was a transmission line blaze at a cellular tower on November 16, 2004 when welders ignited a fire on a 100-foot monopole in Prince George's County. Emergency response time was quick since it was located in the rear parking lot of Kentland Fire Station 33.