It’s 2:00 in the morning, dark and -15 degrees. You’re out on top of an electric pole trying to reestablish electricity. What are you called? A lineman.
You are a special breed if you are a power lineman. You must be able to withstand rain, hail, wind, extreme heat and extreme cold. Not to mention snow up past your boots.
A power lineman has to be good with the public. As a power lineman, you are the one who will be “posting” late and overdue bills on people’s doors. A power lineman will be the one walking into peoples’ darkness and explaining what is wrong and when it will be fixed.
A power lineman must go to a technical school for at least one year. There the lineman learns how to erect electric poles and lines. The lineman needs to learn to climb poles using “pole climbers”. Pole climbers attach to the boot of the power lineman. They have spikes that grab into the pole as they climb.
The power lineman learns to perform various maintenance and trouble-shooting techniques. The linemen also learn the operation of transformers and special equipment.
Things that would keep you from being a power lineman are fear of heights and not being able to do a physical job outside in all kinds of weather.
Of course, if you have a fear of electricity, you won’t want this job either. As a power lineman has to handle up to 500,000 volts live.
What keeps a power lineman safe with this high voltage electricity? The lineman works with insulated gloves and insulated equipment. They are taught the proper ways in which to use them.
A power lineman can handle electric wires from the ground with an insulated “stick”. It can telescope out to about 25 ft. The lineman can operate switches or replace fuses with this stick. So in some cases, the power lineman can forgo strapping climbers on and having to go up the pole.
Most power lineman have access to “bucket trucks” now. This is a truck that has a bucket or platform mounted on a truck. It has hydraulics and is usually insulated.
With the insulated truck and rubber gloves and proper equipment, the power lineman can work on live lines without turning them off for maintenance.
The power lineman is required to wear a hardhat and safety glasses. Flame retardant clothing is also mandatory. Safety belts and harnesses are also part of the safety protocol for the power lineman.
When asked, most power linemen would say the best part of their job is the satisfaction of restoring someone’s power that’s been off. The power lineman also takes pride in keeping the power on in adverse conditions.
People don’t realize that a power lineman is performing maintenance and repair all the time on their lines. But most of the time, the power never goes off while they are working.
Is being a power lineman a safe job? It’s just as safe as most other jobs, as long as all safety rules and procedures are followed.
The next time you see a lineman, thank him or her for keeping you out of the dark.