When you think of an IBEW Lineman, you think of someone climbing an electrical pole, facing all sorts of outside elements. You aren’t incorrect! But some lineman don’t climb poles…some fly in.

A task that seems impossible to many is a walk in the park for these brave linemen. Flying through the air is a typical day on the job for these line construction crews working near Parachute, CO. It’s the mindfulness to put safety first as well as utilizing your technical skill that must be engrained in these linemen when they first strap on their harness.

Luckily, a dedication to safety and skill is always at top of mind in the IBEW. These brothers and sisters are set up for success from the moment they first step into the training center to the moment they take flight.

This story was brought to you by IBEW Hour Power.

 

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Transcript: Taking the Trade to New Heights: Aerial Linemen

Being a lineman is a job that not many can handle. It’s early mornings… Wild temperature swings… There is not a single element that is forgiving or simple. And that’s just the office they work in, not the job they are asked to do.

Hi and welcome to another edition of IBEW Hour Power, I’m Erica McClaugherty. I’m here in Parachute, Colorado on a job that isn’t typical. Usually linemen are climbing the poles… but today… they are FLYING in!

This job is a new electrical transmission line between two towns, Rifle and Parachute, in a very remote portion of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Curtis Romero: XCEL Representative “20.5 miles very aggressive terrain about 2,000 elevation change. Some of the structures are 15 ft different from one to the other because of the terrain. The purpose is to upgrade Rifle to Parachute. Oil and gas was really busy two years ago and it’s not enough capacity for this area so when oil and gas do take off again excel will be prepared for it.”

This rugged mountain landscape makes it impossible for even the best four-wheelers navigate…therefore, the only way to get to these towers is to hop on board.

Erik Ingraham: Foreman & Journeyman, IBEW Local 66 – Texas “I was on the west coast for five years on helicopter jobs. It makes it a lot easier. It’s like a vertical handline. You don’t need anyone on the ground and the guy on the ground can only pull about 200 pounds and the helicopter can pull a lot more weight and make it easier. Hanging on the helicopter is the easy part. You hook in a go for a ride. It’s the technique when you get to the tower what you need to do next… putting safety first.”

It’s that blend of technical expertise; with one-of-a-kind approach to attacking new daily challenges is the differentiating factor, even way up here.

Mike Mazzucca: Superintendant, PAR Electric “When you hire people out of the hall you get guys that are experienced and guys that want to get experience so it’s all part of the training and continuance from apprenticeship all the way up. We don’t get any better unless we expand our horizons.”

Corey Morris, 5th Year Apprentice, IBEW Local 57 – Salt Lake City “Coming from distribution side, everything is a lot heavier and bigger. It’s a faster pace and it’s a different style and it’s fun it’s a different learning curve for sure.”

Erik Ingraham: Foreman & Journeyman, IBEW Local 66 – Texas “The best thing is you don’t want to do anything to put yourself in danger, I always think about my family first. I have to go home to them.”

Nicholas Leon: Journeyman, IBEW Local 969 – Grand Junction “You can’t just get used to it. You have to come with your A game everyday. You can’t take short cuts. There’s no pencil with an eraser.”

Raymond Welk: 2nd Year Apprentice Lineman, IBEW Local 47 – Southern California “Take your time, be patient. Slow is always fast. Don’t rush. The helicopter is always there for us to work for us. Use it to your advance. Take your time in everything you do to stay out of a bind.”

Nicholas Leon: Journeyman, IBEW Local 969 – Grand Junction “You have to be efficient at your job. You have to know what you are going to do when you get up there. You have to also be able to react quickly when you get in a bind. You have to make decisions and be confident with your decisions right away.”

Erik Ingraham: Foreman & Journeyman, IBEW Local 66 – Texas “Today we already got the wire strung in and it’s pulled up to sag and we have to dead end the structure and clip the structures in, take the dolly’s out and it will be finalized.”

This adaptation of the trade is a rare commodity that is not lost on contractor or the customer.

Mike Mazzucca: Superintendant, PAR Electric “Between the customer and PAR electric, we have a very good relationship. I like to think I have a good relationship with my workers, the labor pool.”

Curtis Romero: XCEL Representative “I was part of the IBEW for ten years myself, I’m a big fan of the IBEW and I always have been. Very professional. Good training programs and great people to work with.”

And this adaption of the trade is not lost on the craftsmen either.

Raymond Welk: 2nd Year Apprentice Lineman, IBEW Local 47 – Southern California “It’s a very humbling experience, God has had a big part of this journey for me. Being in the air on a line with nothing but air and scenery is a great feeling.”

Nicholas Leon: Journeyman, IBEW Local 969 – Grand Junction “If I didn’t have this, I would not do this job. My scenery changes every day. I look at the dirt everywhere I go. It’s never the same color. I take a vile from every state and take it home.”

Corey Morris, 5th Year Apprentice, IBEW Local 57 – Salt Lake City “The most fun is flying under the helicopter everyday. Hanging off the towers is fun.”

Raymond Welk: 2nd Year Apprentice Lineman, IBEW Local 47 – Southern California “Every day is fun! If they keep me busy I’m having a good time!”

Reporting for IBEW Hour Power from the Colorado Rockies, I’m Erica McClaugherty.

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Erica McClaugherty

Erica McClaugherty joined the IBEW Hour Power team in 2015 and has been traveling around the United States and Canada ever since, bringing the stories of hard working IBEW brothers and sisters to life.

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