21February 2023

Gaff and fire retardant testing on DCOI and Penta treated wood utility poles

Comparative Gaff and Pilodyn Testing of DCOI-A and Penta Treated Pole Sections
Article authored by Dr. Andy Zahora, Senior Research Scientist with Viance, LLC.

In many regions of the United States and Canada utility companies are making increasing use ofGAFF TESTING VIANCE boom/bucket trucks for above ground line/equipment maintenance, but physical climbing of poles by lineman is still necessary and indeed preferred in some circumstances. It is well established that poles treated with oil-borne preservative systems such as pentachlorophenol (penta) are considered by linemen to be safer and easier to climb than water-borne preservative systems such as CCA. DCOI-A in an HSA solvent system was recently standardized by AWPA as an alternative to penta for utility poles and there is a need for data that demonstrate if this new system will have any impact on pole climbability.

The climbability of the DCOI-A treatment in southern pine was compared to penta using gaff and Pilodyn pin penetration measurements. Pole sections were quartered, with different sections of the same poles treated with either DCOI-A or penta in an HSA solvent system. CCA was included as a “harder-to-climb” reference system. Results from “slide-hammer gaff” penetration and Pilodyn pin penetration tests showed there was no difference in the depth of penetration into DCOI-A and penta treated pole sections. Results from both test methods revealed that gaff and Pilodyn pin penetration into the oil-borne treated samples were about 20-25% deeper than in the matched CCA treated pole sections.

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Small-scale Fire Testing of DCOI-A Treated Utility Poles


Article authored by Dr. Xing Yang, Senior Research Scientist and Dr. Kevin Archer, Director of Research and Development with Viance, LLC.


The frequency and severity of wildfires has been increasing in the western United States over the past several years. Several electric utilities have significant financial investment in distribution and transmission pole infrastructure in fire prone areas and there are obvious concerns about the fire resistance of their installed poles. Despite significant effort by the utility industry and fire testing agencies, a standardized fire testing method for utility poles has not been agreed upon. Viance developed a simple in-house procedure based on the industry protocols under development so as to compare the fire performance of DCOI-A treated pole stubs with Penta treated pole stubs. Time to ignition, ignition temperature and char depth data were recorded for both preservative treatments under controlled conditions.


A small-scale and inexpensive burn test was used to compare the fire resistance characteristics of DCOI-A and Penta treated pole stubs. The test shows promise as a screening tool for evaluating fire resistance properties of utility poles. Based on measurements of time to ignition, ignition temperature, Uni-Directional and Concentric char depth determined using the small scale test, the fire resistance characteristics of the two preservative treatments appear to be equivalent.

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