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    Scaling heights for dam inspections

    Scaling heights for dam inspections

    Photo By Stacey Reese | Michael Ellis, civil engineer Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gives...... read more read more



    Story by Stacey Reese 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District

    Fort Gibson, Okla.—Inspecting the gates of a dam requires unique skills, rigorous training, and a keen eye for detail. A five-person team from the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, plays a crucial role in safeguarding the structural integrity of this vital component of critical infrastructure.
    The group has skills that are crucial to maintaining the integrity and safety of dam gates.
    "Physical fitness is the foundation for a successful climber," says Jarrod Breuer, Tulsa District civil engineer, who is a member of the district’s climbing group.
    Climbers from other districts occasionally supplement the Tulsa District team on larger dams, such as the 30-gate structure at Fort Gibson Lake in Eastern Oklahoma.
    "During inspections, climbers check for damage, cracks, corrosion, and coating failures on the gates," said Breuer. “Each gate inspection typically takes one to two hours. These inspections also include checking for issues caused by garbage, debris, and bird droppings, which can significantly damage coating systems."
    Engineers conduct inspection on gates every five years, but annual inspections are carried out based upon specific circumstances.
    Engineers draft reports based upon inspection results. These reports help Tulsa District prioritize repairs.
    “Climbers' expertise contributes significantly to proactive maintenance, ensuring the longevity of dam structures,” says Breuer.
    While alternatives like drones or man baskets could be used to perform these inspections, those methods have limitations. Utilizing man baskets is restrictive, as they cannot achieve an extensive reach and are impractical in high winds. Drones cannot look around and within small spaces or tight spots or scrub, dig, and brush away debris, feces, or rust.
    Each team member trains via the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians Course, where during a week-long training program, climbers earn climbing certifications.
    “The climbers utilize a two-rope system consisting of a primary and backup rope coupled with professional-grade rope access equipment,” said Breuer. “This equipment surpasses the standards used in traditional rock climbing, ensuring utmost safety during their ascent and inspection activities.”



    Date Taken: 02.20.2024
    Date Posted: 02.19.2024 09:01
    Story ID: 464231
    Location: FORT GIBSON, OK, US

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