Category Archives: Safety

Fire Safety Demonstrations

Our local fire department had an open house to show the public their facilities and equipment. The mostly volunteer force gathered at their training facility dressed in all their gear.

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Lights Out On The Radio Tower

Update: As of mid-September 2019, the tower light is again working. It took 7 months.

A short distance from the back of our house is a tall radio tower. We normally see this 100 meter tall structure with some red lights along its length and a blinking red light on top. It is visible through our living room windows. This is a view one day a couple of years ago when I walked close to it.

Zoomed in on the top one can see the light that normally blinks to warn aircraft. We have a lot of low flying helicopter traffic carrying patients to the University of Iowa for medical care. It is very important for them to see it, especially at night.


In early February I noticed none of the lights on the tower were glowing. The top light was not blinking. Curiosity got the best of me. I decided to email the facilities office at the university to tell them. I assumed they already knew. But, just in case, it wouldn’t hurt. I got a quick response and was included in subsequent emails to different offices as they tried to establish who was responsible for fixing the problem.

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Structurally Deficient Bridges

Are your bridges safe?

How I See It

My rural state of Iowa has more public road miles than the combined total interstate miles in all 50 states. Of our 24,242 bridges spanning at least 20 ft carrying highway traffic, 5025 are structurally deficient (20.7%). We are 1st in the nation in number and 3rd in percentage according to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2016 National Bridge Inventory. The data is presented by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association in Washington DC.

This photograph shows a public bridge at least 20 ft long which suffered complete failure for a variety of reasons including deterioration with age and an excessive load. The flaws of bridges can be hidden from view. They need qualified inspectors who know what engineering points to examine.

Bridge Photo courtesy of Audubon County Iowa

Structurally Deficient does not mean the bridge is in immediate danger of collapse. But, it does need attention. The quote below from the Iowa Department of Transportation

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