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Last Updated: , Created: Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Smart Meters & Fires


Here is a lengthy response to a comments thread on a video entitled Smart Meter Fires. You can see the initial discussion at the bottom of this page.


Where fear is expressed, it is not always fear mongering but often precaution.  “Fear mongering” is a political tactic of using fear to hide something or influence decisions.  Precaution is a warning to not get burned.

Fact: Smart Meters have caused home fires, even here in Québec

If there is absolutely no fire problem with “next generation meters” then why has the Régie de l’Énergie du Québec forced Hydro Québec to increase the safe distance between electrical meters and propane tanks from 1 meter for mechanical meters to 3 meters for their new electronic meters?  Hydro has proposed a modification to the regulations to allow coming back to the 1 meter standard providing that the direction of all discharge nozzles on the propane tank point away from the meter.  That is a good idea, but not necessary at all with the old mechanical meters.  Further, there have been no fires reported to be caused by mechanical meters for their many years of service in every home in the country, yet hundreds, some even caught on video, of fires caused by “next generation meters”.  Hydro Québec points to the remote service interruption feature that can cause a spark and in the presence of propane gas; that could be a disaster.  Yet all the documented fires had no propane tanks near the meter.  The meter started to burn and that in turn spread a fire to the wall, then roof etc.  Some burned out before the house burnt down, some brought down the house.  So even if the propane did not “start” the fire, it would not be a good idea to have a propane tank near a device that could start a fire all by itself.  Yet why are the Québec fire marshals complaining that Hydro Québec arrives on the scene of a fire quickly and leaves with the burnt meter, not allowing the fire marshal to investigate the cause of the fire?  To me that is not fear mongering, but looking at real problems with these devices and an concerted effort on the part of Hydro Québec to not admit or accept any liability for problems with this program. 


Fact: Smart meters are not “just meters with digital readout and a cell connection”

As for the simplification that a “next generation meter” is just another harmless electronic device – “They’re just meters with digital readout and a cell connection, nothing more mysterious or sinister than that.”  Hydro itself points to the potential of sparks with the “remote service interruption” – a 200Amp disconnect under tension.  Then there is a Pulsed Power supply, that the old meters do not have – another discussion for the health researchers to debate.  Then there is a whole circuit board of heat sensitive components, as well as a casing that can actually melt down if there is excessive heat in or behind the meter – the old meters had few parts and a hardened glass case.  

As for the “cumulative discharge of radiation over 20 years is equal to a 30 minute cell call” – the numbers could be true for certain configurations but rather than pulsing a few times a day as the utilities claim, they have been measured to pulse several tens of thousands of times a day to keep the WiFi connection live – that cell call just got considerably longer.  But more important is that a so called “smart meter” does not have a smooth low level signal like a cell phone – it has an extremely high millisecond shot for a signal.  If I were to shoot a bullet at you, and then average the pressure of that bullet over 20 years’ time, it would not even have the power to penetrate your skin!   Averaging is part of the phrase:  “statistics lie”.  The penetration capacity of smart meter signals is hardly comparable to a cell phone and more and more laboratory research is showing that low level electromagnetic radiation can have consequences on living systems.  No, the research has not stopped and the debate has not gone away – although many would like to think that it was an anti-something fad. 


Fact: Smart Meters are installed in an unsafe manner that violates the electrical code

The most credible reason for these meters causing so many fires may have nothing to do with the meter itself, but with its installation by people who are not electricians, performing a “hot swap” of meters on a pressure productivity delivery schedule.  When the connection prongs of the old installation are not in perfect shape, removing an operating meter causes sparks, as does installing a new meter under tension.  These sparks end up placing serious corrosion, or causing loose connections which then lead to heat build-up and fire – perhaps simply by the heat of the copper leads destroying sensitive electronic controls inside the closed meter and the whole thing escalates or by the hot leads into the house melting down their shielding and the wood of the house starts to burn.   The official change out procedure that electricians are taught is to turn off the power, inspect the condition of the connection prongs, change the meter and then turn the power back on – but such sensible precaution does not fit the budget of the forced “Next Generation Meter” program of Hydro Québec.  It is much cheaper to zap out all the meters and pay for a few fires – especially if no-one can prove that Hydro Québec caused the fire.


Separating wishful thinking from reality and then passing judgment

Is that “fear mongering”, or even a “conspiracy theory”?  No – it is observation and documentation of reality.  That this happens is a reality.  Why is this all going on?  Now that is a good question for social media chat. 


Looking for balance in information

If you would like a more balanced view of the issue than that given by the BluePlanetFoundation, read this overview:

Jon Eakes



The facebook thread:


**Mike Berthold -- I wouldn't stress about it...

I respect Jon a lot but this is just fear mongering, at least in my opinion.


**Lyne Berthold -- is it fear mongering also for the BC firefighters to issue concerns and Ontario removing them from their rural area? I believe Saskatchewan removed them completely, but not sure would have to look at the video again. In the video Jon says they are not well made and if water/condensation is getting into them, then yes they could start a fire. Just curious why Hydro Quebec is stealing them away after a fire and refusing to allow fire marshals or insurance assessors to see them. One thing is Jon Eakes is not into fear mongering he is highly qualified, look at his resume. I'm not stressed about it but happy to know it can happen so I can be prepared. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


**Mike Berthold -- SaskPower had defective meters that did have an increased risk of fire and were all removed and replaced. The same company's meters were removed in Ontario, about 6000 out of the 2 million that had been installed. 

Honestly they're just meters with digital readout and a cell connection, nothing more mysterious or sinister than that. If they're not properly watertight (possibly the defective ones found in SK), they can definitely be a danger. Or if they're not installed properly, that's a big problem too. But that's not because they're smart, any meter would have the same issues. 

There was a big movement against smart meters because of the EMF waves from the cell connection. Once it was proven that the total amount over a 20 year period would equal a single 30 minute cell phone call, it looks like the anti-smart meter lobby moved on to fire safety as the reason against them. 



Keywords: Controversy, Radiation, Fire, Cell Phones, Electromagnetic Fields, WiFi, Smart Meters, Environmental, Health, Safety, Electrical

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