Transformers To Get New Locks

June 13, 1991|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff writer

Almost two months after an 8-year-old Annapolis boy suffered severe burns from crawling inside an electrical transformer, the city's housing authority is putting tamper-resistant locks on all public housingdevelopment transformers.

Workers from Baltimore Gas and ElectricCo. will install the locks within the next six weeks, under a plan unanimously approved last night by the Annapolis Housing Authority's board of commissioners.

The locks -- half-inch-thick bolts with a hexagonal nut that willrequire a special tool to open -- will be placed on all 42 electrical transformers in the city's 10 public housing projects.

The boardapproved the safety measure, 4-0. One member, the Rev. Rufus S. Abernethy, missed the meeting because of illness.

Harold S. Greene, the housing authority's executive director, proposed the locks to keep vandals from breaking into the transformers and allowing children to climb inside the 13,000-volt boxes.

The new devices, to be placed inside the transformers at a cost of about $50 each, will provide an

additional safeguard, along with existing padlocks outside the boxes, Greene said.

"Now, if somebody wants to get into one of these boxes, they're really going to have to work a lot harder at it," Greene said.

Housing authority officials say they keep padlocks on thetransformers, but vandals had broken into the Robinwood transformer days before the April 23 accident that injured 8-year-old Terrence Tolbert.

That Robinwood transformer has since been fenced off, in response to residents' demands.

Terrence lost his right arm and suffered severe burns after crawling into the transformer. He was released last week from Children's Hospital National Medical Center, where he was treated for severe burns and received skin grafts on both legs.

Terrence heads to Philadelphia's Shriners Burn Institute next week to learn to walk again and receive an artificial right arm.

AlanH. Legum, an Annapolis attorney representing the boy's mother, Juanita Johns, said he has directed experts to look into whether the authority had taken "proper precautions." Legum said he will decide whether to sue within 30 days.

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