Stadium Light Poles Recalled Because They Could Spoil Your Game By Falling Over

Nothing ruins a good game of slo-pitch softball with your buddies than when a 70-foot-tall light pole falls down and goes “splat” on your shortstop. Apparently this has happened enough with a particular brand of stadium light poles that the CPSC has decided to issue a recall on them.

The poles in question were manufactured by Whitco Company LP of Fort Worth, Texas, which is now out of business. Probably because they made crappy poles.

According to the CPSC, it has confirmed 11 incidents in which Whitco poles fell:

In one incident, a pole fell through the roof of a school gymnasium causing significant property damage. In two other incidents, the poles fell onto outdoor bleachers causing significant property damage. The latest incident occurred at Integrity Park Inc. in Argyle, Texas…. To date, CPSC is not aware of any injuries. However, some incidents have been close calls, with people exiting the area just minutes before a pole fell.

Additionally CPSC has identified more than 50 currently standing Whitco poles with fractures and/or cracks next to the weld that joins the pole to its base plate.

The recalled poles are made out of steel with a galvanized coating and range in height from 70′ to 135′, and weigh from about 1 to 4 tons.

CPSC says recalled poles “should be inspected by an engineer or a Level II non-destructive testing technician immediately to identify cracking at or near the weld connecting the pole to the base plate flange. A visual examination with the naked eye or with a magnifier will not determine the extent of any cracking.”

Here is a PDF of sites with poles that likely need inspection. [PDF]

And here are some more photos of collapsed poles.
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Recall to Repair: Whitco Company LP Stadium Light Poles Can Fall Over, Posing Risk of Serious Injury and Death [CPSC]

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  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    This will surely help thousands of Level II non-destructive testing technicians find jobs in this strained economy.

  2. c!tizen says:

    Seriously? How exactly does one fail in designing a pole? Too many 90 degree angles?

    • Judah says:

      Pole design — straightforward. If you cut costs on the metal material composition, then expect cracks and short shelf life.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I bet the former Whitco owner and/or CEO is hearing about this and thinking to themselves, “Thank goodness we closed before THIS happened!”

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Buyout a successful company with a recognized name for quality, outsource your production to Mexico, reduce the thickness of your base plates, profit – then file for BK.

      • pot_roast says:

        That appears to have been what happened. Cheaper materials were sourced from China, according to local reports.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      Judging from the last photo it’s most likely a workmanship issue, not one of design. It sure looks like a weld failure, and since the CPSC is recommending that an engineer or Level II non-destructive testing technician inspect it for cracks, it seems like that’s what they think too.

      Looking at the top two photos, it appears that the mast actually separated from the base plate. If the base plate were too thin you would more likely see the base plate + mast separate from its foundation, not the mast snapping off.

      Also, if it were properly welded but the pole material was defective or understrength you would see cracks in a different place than what you see in the last photo.

      • perruptor says:

        The article says the inspectors should look for cracks near the welds, not at the welds. Probably the welding weakened or embrittled the pole. This may be a fault in the welds, or the steel of the pole may be inappropriate.

        • perruptor says:

          Sorry – “at or near.” Just ignore me. I’ll be over in the corner, reading Mechnix Illustrated.

  3. Smashville says:

    I love the irony of the product failing at “Integrity Park”…heh.

  4. RulesLawyer says:

    Hey, Kool-Aid!

    Oh yeah!!!

  5. pantheonoutcast says:

    Well, it looks like I have a busy evening ahead of me, checking all of the one ton, 70′ light poles I have around my apartment to see if the serial numbers match up to those being recalled. Serves me right for buying them on clearance. Seriously, you get what you pay for these days…

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I’d say “I make my own poles at home” but I’m not Polish.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      I think most of them were installed by low-bid contracts, like for school districts.

  6. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Spoil my game? Pfft. I’d like to think of it as an additional challenge those overpaid muscleheads have to contend with.

  7. Short_Circuit_City says:

    This would have made Varsity Blues a much better movie. “I DON’T WANT YOUR LIGHTS!”

  8. mcnerd85 says:

    Looks like it’s lights out for any stadium who bought one of these. They’re really getting the pole since they have no one to sue.

  9. Southern says:

    Not to nitpick with the CPSC, but isn’t the very definition of “Product Recall” a “request to return to the maker a batch or an entire production run of a product, usually due to the discovery of safety issues.” and/or “ask for return of problem product: the act of requesting the return of a commercial product to the retailer or manufacturer because of a defect or a safety or efficiency problem.”

    It doesn’t sound like they can “Recall” the product since the manufacturer is long gone, and is not going to be repairing these poles, so wouldn’t this fall under more of a “Product Safety Alert” (which is ALSO under the the CPSC umbrella)?

    Nitpicking aside (Well, I *do* think the CPSC should know the difference), OUCH! Those pictures are downright scary.

  10. RandomHookup says:

    Let’s see…people are falling from the second deck at baseball games, someone will blow a vuvuzela in my ear at a soccer game until I’m deaf and now the poles are falling. No more live sporting events for me.

    • Jay911 says:

      Come to road rallying where you can stand safely at the side of a gravel road where cars go past at 90 MPH!

  11. gman863 says:

    If you’re bored enough to look through the PDF list of danger sites with faulty lights, it goes way beyond high schools including:

    * A major truck stop. “Breaker, breaker, looks like we got us a convoy of crashin’ poles.”

    * Richmond Int’l Speeday. “Jimmie and Dale Junior are bumper to bumper coming out of the final turn, last lap and OH ($1 Million FCC Fine Redracted)!!!” Based on Talledaga Nights, life may imitate art in the Mother of all NASCAR crashes.

    * Toledo’s airport. Aren’t the commuter planes dangerous enough without a “watch for falling lights” sign by the runway?

    * An army ammunition depot in Oklahoma. This is one fireworks show I wouldn’t want to be within 100 miles of.

    * An Indiana maximum security prison. If the lights fall on death row it will save taxpayers millions and the Supreme Court can’t say a word. In the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing.”

  12. runchadrun says:

    At least the recall notice didn’t tell you to return the light pole to the store where you bought it for a refund.

  13. P.G. says:

    I wondered why they were replacing all the masts at my high school’s stadium after one fell due to an EF-2 tornado in May. And it did separate at the base and crash across the road.

    This was the May 13th, 2010 tornado that started in Sapulpa, OK and hit Lafortune Park in Tulsa, OK which the high school is on the eastern edge.

    Local news station has pictures, http://www.newson6.com/Global/story.asp?S=12474543