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Whatever it Takes: Powering Life, from a Lineman’s Perspective

Linemen are ranked as one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country. The linemen at AVECC work rain or shine, in often challenging conditions to ensure you have reliable electricity. We’re celebrating Lineman Appreciation Day on April 18, 2024. The following column was written in dedication to the sacrifices our dedicated linemen make every day.

 April 18, 2024 - Lineman Appreciation Day

I am one of seventy linemen at Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative Corporation (AVECC) who work every day in all weather conditions to make sure our community has the power to live their lives. I love my job. It’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding. I hope this will give you a better look into what we face and more importantly, why we do it.  

The Danger

A lot of people know linework is dangerous because we work near high-voltage electricity. Move just the wrong way or lose focus for a split second, and it could be deadly. You must be aware of your surroundings and the safety of the person next to you. We often work on energized power lines, and you can’t always tell they are energized by looking at them. You’re working with an element of danger that requires concentration, and there is no margin for error. The environment compounds the pressure, because when you need power most is usually when the weather is worst. I’m often working in storms with rain, wind, extreme heat and cold, in the dark, or on the side of the road next to fast-moving traffic. Yes, it’s dangerous, but that’s what we’re trained to do. 

Many may not realize it, but we undergo years of training before we can officially be called a lineman. We typically start as a ground person, helping crews with tools and keeping job sites safe, and then we transition to apprentice status, which typically spans over a couple of years. After an apprenticeship, with more than 7,000 hours of training under our belts, we transition to journeyman lineman status––that’s when we’re considered officially trained in our field. 

But the education is ongoing. Linemen continuously receive training to stay mindful of safety requirements and up-to-date on the latest equipment and procedures. 

The Physical Demand

The daily expectations of a lineman are physically demanding, but you won’t hear any of us complain about that. I know what I signed up for—loading heavy materials, climbing poles, and in and out of buckets. A lot of times, we go places the trucks can’t, so I might be hiking through the woods loaded down with 40 pounds of personal protective equipment. But that’s the job. Most of us are just glad to be outside. 

The Sacrifices

There are some sacrifices to being a lineman. I’m often first on the scene of an emergency, seeing things that are devastating like car accidents, structure fires, and damage from severe storms. You don’t know what type of situation you will face or when you will face it. We get calls all hours and in the middle of the night. I’ve missed a lot of Little League games and family dinners, but my family is very supportive, and it pays off in the end. We make sure nothing is standing in the way of helping our friends and neighbors get back to normal life.

It’s Worth It

One thing that makes this job worthwhile is the camaraderie. My co-op is my second family, and the line crews are a brotherhood. In this work, you have to depend on the person beside you in life-or-death circumstances. It’s a culture of trust, teamwork, and service. It’s all about keeping the teammate beside you safe and the lights on for everybody else. 

I have a lot of pride in my work. Even when it’s cold and wet, I know I’m working to keep people warm. There’s a lot of satisfaction in hearing someone yell “Thank you!” from the window after the lights come back on or seeing people flipping the light switches on their porches after an outage is restored. No matter how tired I am or how long I’ve been working, that feeling always makes it worth it. 

AVECC and its employees are members of this community. We live in the same neighborhoods. We shop at the same stores. Our kids go to the same schools. If your lights are off, there is a good chance ours are off too. So, you can trust that we are doing our best to get the lights back on as quickly and safely as possible–– so you can get back to normal life.


Signed, 

    AVECC Lineman. 

    Son. 

    Brother. 

    Husband. 

    Father. 

    Friend.


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