Here’s Why You Should #ThankALineman
Foreman, Journeyman, Apprentice, Troubleshooter, Lineworker – oh my! When it comes to providing reliable electric service or getting the power restored after a storm, there are a lot of players on our team. Each player has a unique and essential role when they’re working in the field.
Meet Tucker, Keith, Brian and Jake! Between the four of these guys, they have almost 70 years of combined experience working in the field.
As an apprentice lineworker, Tucker works your normal 40-hour work week. Outside of his work hours, he’s also working on studying for exams. To complete his apprenticeship program, he will do at least 4,000 hours of documented on-the-job work plus three years’ worth of book work including tests and exams each year.
What exactly can Tucker do as an apprentice? Everything! He is qualified to work under the supervision of a journeyman lineworker.
It’s a lot of work to become a lineworker. Tucker said, “It’s worth it for the good feeling knowing I’m helping the community – when kids wave at you, telling you thank you.”
The foreman’s primary job? Safety, safety, safety. As a foreman, Keith’s job varies based on the situation, but his focus will always be the safety of his crew and the public. Keith secures the area around an area of an outage to ensure traffic is redirected, sidewalks are closed, and the public is a safe distance away. Prior to starting any work, Keith leads a “tailboard” aka a safety meeting with his crew.
Throughout the entire situation, he is the third safety spotter on the ground. “One thing the public may not know is that if there are crews working overhead, the foreman on the ground can’t usually talk because they are focused on safety,” Keith said.
Keith has always been an outdoors sort of person so linework was the perfect fit for him. He has 37 years of experience in the field, so you know he must love it!
Journeyman Lineworker, Brian
We have 39 talented journeyman lineworkers in our electric department including Brian.
The journeyman lineworker is the one in the bucket, climbing the pole, wearing the rubber gloves, doing the hands-on work. Each crew consists of a foreman and at least two lineworkers – either a journeyman and an apprentice or two journeymen. Anytime a journeyman is paired with an apprentice, he is also a teacher in addition to a coworker.
While the foreman on the ground is responsible for safety, so is the journeyman lineworker. “We have safety practices and steps we have to follow. There are no shortcuts,” Brian said. “Our job is to work as quickly as possible to get power restored, but sometimes safe doesn’t always mean fast.”
The troubleshooter is the “first responder” of electric line work. Their goal is to respond as quickly as possible to any call whether it’s a low wire, flickering light, tree in the line, vehicle accident, and more.
Jake is a journeyman lineworker, which is a qualification all troubleshooters must have for this role. He is typically in a truck by himself so he is limited in what he can do to address a situation. Simple repair issues like fixing a fuse or changing a connector are things he will repair when he arrives and assesses the situation. From a safety perspective, if a repair would require more than one person, Jake will report his findings to dispatch then wait for additional crews or another troubleshooter to arrive.
In the event of a significant outage like one that might follow a severe spring storm, troubleshooters are essential for finding the problems. They make minor or temporary repairs, and report back to dispatch to organize line crews and tree trimming crews. If you see a City Utilities truck in your neighborhood during an outage but they drive away before the power comes back on, they were likely a troubleshooter who was looking for the problem.
We love the great work Tucker, Keith, Brian, Jake and all our electric crew do for the community every day! Use #ThankALineman to celebrate with us on Missouri Lineworker Appreciation Day on April 12 and National Linemen Appreciation Day on April 18.