Working on the Line
Being a lineman may possibly be one of the most important jobs in our electric-dependent society. It’s challenging work, but also important work. Linemen are our first responders. Linemen are the unsung heroes who labor without regard to their own comfort in order to ensure our members have electricity. Perhaps you have seen them raising their bucket trucks in the howling winds and torrential rains, or in freezing, icy conditions. They work around the clock near high-voltage power lines until electricity is restored to every member in our co-op community.
One of the most important aspects about their job is the need for safety. Being a lineman is very rewarding, but it can also be unforgiving. Safety is a top priority at the co-op for all employees. But for linemen, there can be no slip ups or careless actions. Mistakes can cost a limb or a life.
Linemen put their life in the hands of co-workers every day and when they do that they become more than colleagues. They’re family. That sense of family extends to electric co-ops across the country. One of the cooperative principles is Cooperation among Cooperatives. Wheatland helps other cooperatives in their time of need and they extend that service to us, too. Last year, during Winter Storm URSA, mutual aid crews arrived to help Wheatland repair and replace large sections of downed power lines.
In order for linemen to be able to respond no matter the situation or weather conditions, they need to be highly trained. So, what does it take to be a lineman?
Wheatland’s multi-step program starts with a four-year, 8,000 hour Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program developed from the Merchant Job Training and Safety program (MJTS). It includes hundreds of hours of classroom learning along with supervised hands-on training, written tests and skills testing. At the end of each year, the apprentice must pass an oral test with the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC). The JATC is made up of four managers from Wheatland and four persons from the Department of Labor. With each test passed they move up to the next level (groundman, first-year apprentice, second year apprentice, third-year apprentice and fourth-year apprentice). After the fourth year is complete, and they have passed their test they become a Journeyman Lineman.
As a Journeyman Lineman, they can do everything—climb poles, operate all mechanized equipment, work on energized lines, troubleshoot outages, provide first aid and CPR, and more!
Wheatland’s dedicated linemen maintain more than 4,600 miles of line throughout our 16 county service territory. They light our homes and businesses every day. They endure harsh weather conditions and long hours, all to make our lives better.
Wheatland is proud to join electric cooperatives around the country in recognizing MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018, as National Lineman Appreciation Day to honor the hardworking men and women who work often in challenging conditions to keep the power on.
The next time you see a lineman, be sure to thank them for keeping the lights on. But more importantly, thank them for the hard – and often times dangerous – work they do, day in and day out.
Use #ThankALineman in your social media posts on April 9 to show support for our Wheatland linemen who make our lives easier every day.