Faulty fuse box burns hole in pocket

Lifting the lid on a costly problem: Power pole owner Paul Gregory said he was looking at thousands to replace his faulty fuse box.
Lifting the lid on a costly problem: Power pole owner Paul Gregory said he was looking at thousands to replace his faulty fuse box.

The recent Hills fires, caused by a fallen power pole that was privately owned, was a jolting reminder of the responsibilities associated with pole ownership.

Paul Gregory, who bought his 1970s house about eight years ago, wants to warn others of not only the dangers but also of the costs involved.

Mr Gregory was fully aware that his house came with a power pole when he bought it.

However, a burnt fuse last month opened up a can of costly worms.

‘It was very fortunate that the fuse didn’t cause a fire, but I realised how old the fuse box was and how much it would cost to replace it,’ he said.

First an electrician advised him that a replacement fuse box from Synergy would cost about $300.

Then Western Power would have to disconnect the power and could do so for about $660. Finally, he was looking at up to $2000 for an electrician to do the job.

Mr Gregory said in addition to all that, the backing of the old box was made of asbestos, which had to be removed and disposed of properly.

He urged other power pole owners to check their power poles and to be aware that they may need to dig deep to replace or repair them.

‘There must be 70 to 80 other houses like mine with an old fuse box from the 1970s; people should be aware that this can be very expensive,’ he said.

This year’s fire prompted Hills resident Matt Leverington, whose home was threatened by the blaze, to call on Western Power to inspect privately owned power poles and fine those whose poles were not up to standard.

He said he understood it was the owner’s responsibility, but there should be some sort of consequence.

A spokeswoman for Western Power said the utility was not accountable for inspecting and maintaining privately owned power poles.

The spokeswoman said the Office of Energy Safety advises that homeowners should check their private lines and poles at least once a year to check for visible signs of deterioration. If defects are noticed, then an electrical contractor should be engaged to fix it.