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Arson attack in Glasgow cuts off community

29 Apr 2020

In our series looking at days in the lives of key workers - we spoke with Robert in Scotland, one of our engineers who responded to an arson attack in Glasgow.

CrimeStoppers Appeal.

It would take some time to explain all the different jobs we do in my team, basically we’ve all been around for 20 years or more, so we have a wide variety of skills, knowledge and experience. 

For this reason, if there’s a complex or big repair job to do, from Glasgow to Oban, we’re the ones called in. I’ve personally worked for the company for more than 31 years now. 

Blockquote

"We worked 14-hour shifts, 6am to 8pm all weekend but the local community kept us in crisps and juice."

Recently, we were called out to an area of Glasgow called Springboig.  The homes there no longer had any telephony connectivity because of a fire where the cables are housed in the ground.

From my 20 years’ experience as a community fireman I knew on arrival it had been arson because of the smell of petrol. My team of four got there on Friday at 3pm and we worked alongside the team who dig up roads to start getting back to where the undamaged cables were and re-connecting them. We left the site around 9pm.

We arrived back Saturday morning at 7am to find the cables had been burnt out all over again. I contacted the police and my manager. We had to start repairing all over again. 

Andy, Robert's manager, explains the situation onsite in this video. 

To give you an idea of the scale of the problem – there were six cables containing around 500 pairs of wires (one pair is needed for each connection) in total damaged. We also had to figure out which cables connected to what i.e. whose home.

To do that we needed to go knock on some doors and ask a few questions – including the virus ones we now ask as well to make sure it’s safe to proceed.

We found a group of vulnerable elderly people living there that had monitored alarms. These use the copper network, so they weren’t working any more, along with their phones.

One elderly lady had a mobile phone her daughter had given her but, due to her eyesight, she couldn’t use it. We decided there and then these were the people we’d get connected back first.

We worked 6am to 8pm all weekend and by Monday morning there were only four lines in total left to fix. While we were working, my manager had organised a security team to mind the site overnight, so it wasn’t burnt out again.

The local people were fantastic, they kept us in crisps and juice all weekend and couldn’t stop thanking us. A really lovely community.

Police Scotland are investigating the attacks and questioning some people, and there’s a £1000 Crimestoppers reward for info leading to a conviction.

I’m glad to be working at the moment and making a difference for people. People working from home and trying to stay connected to family and health services really do need us to keep them connected.

Please see this webpage for the latest COVID-19 Openreach information: 

Robert Love

Senior Engineer