Hank Investigates: Live Wires
A hot spot on Commonwealth Avenue…a hot spot in the midst of Boston University…a hot spot on Harvard Street…
7News Investigative Reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan wanted to know how bad a shock could someone get from a hot spot.
Her answer came from Dan O’Sullivan, a licensed electrician. "A shock like that – it could kill them," O’Sullivan said.
On Comm. Ave, O’Sullivan showed 7News that his meter proves there are live exposed wires at a crossing light.
"Does it look like someone’s taking care of this?" Hank Phillippi Ryan asked.
"No, it doesn’t." O’Sullivan answered.
All over town, Hank found street lights and crosswalks without the key panel protecting you from live voltage.
When O'Sullivan found one missing that key panel he talked about the danger for pedestrians and their pets. "Yes, this one is live," he said. "That means exposed wires, it's all exposed anyone could get hurt here."
"How dangerous is that?" Hank Phillippi Ryan asked.
"Very," O'Sullivan said. "Someone could get shocked easily enough."
We found more than a dozen exposed wires in lights and signals in Boston - 7 out of 8 we tested were live.
Hank Phillippi Ryan showed the list of exposed wires to Mayor Thomas Menino. "Here’s a list of them," she said. "In Roxbury, Downtown, Allston, Brighton."
Menino said the list was disturbing and city plans to take action. "This is because of neglect and not doing preventive maintenance," Menino said. "We are going to get to the bottom of this."
The stories of dogs being shocked by stray voltage is now familiar, but it’s not only animals at risk. Several years ago in Philadelphia, a child touched a light pole with an exposed wire and was shocked.
Hank Phillippi Ryan tried to figure out who is responsible for the problem. She found out - it depends on who you ask.
Hank asked the mayor, "Why don’t [the lights and signals] have plates on them now?"
Mayor Menino said, "I wish I knew that answer. It’s a preventive maintenance program that N-Star stopped about 6 years ago."
"So is N-Star supposed to put the caps on or the city?" Hank Phillippi Ryan asked.
"No. N-Star is," the Mayor said.
But it was a different story from N-Star. They said, "The maintenance for the city of Boston streetlights is the responsibility of the city. If there is an area found to be an immediate safety threat, such as stray voltage, we will of course work with the city or town to make that area safe."
7News Story Update:
The Mayor’s office is taking immediate action and is dispatching crews to each location 7News found.
What's more, the mayor is now launching a new web site where you can report exposed wires in your neighborhood.
To report open, missing, exposed or suspicious looking electrical panels, wires or have any safety concerns click here for a link to a special city of Boston web site: