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Insights from the field: a day in the life of a lineman
- Apr 4, 2016 5:25 pm GMT
Originally, I was going to “pretty up” this discussion, figuring that it’s my job to tell this story in the best way I can. When I sat down and began sorting through answers, however, I realized that no one can tell a lineman’s story better than he can.
So, here’s the story of Ed Filor from Crystal River, Fl., who’s been a lineman for 23 years and even knows the exact day he signed on: January 27, 1992.
How did you become a lineman?
Filor: During high school I worked part-time at a local gym in New Port Richey in the evenings and on weekends. I also did weightlifting there. Several line crew personnel belonged to the gym and came in frequently to work out. I spent many hours in conversation with them discussing what the job entailed. This inspired me to pursue becoming a lineman.
What's your typical day like?
Filor: My current work schedule has me on four 10-hour days. So my day starts about 0530 with me heading to the gym to work out. Physical fitness in this line of work is important to me. From there I head to the Ops Center where I review my emails and the work orders in my queue. We always do a Take Ten along with crew briefing. Then it’s off to the line truck to make certain everything is stocked and ready to go. We head off to whatever jobsite we are working on for the day, making sure our work is done carefully and safely.
What's your favorite part of the job?
Filor: For me it’s the mental and physical challenge of what the new workday will bring. You’re never 100% certain if the hot or the cold or a storm is going to throw a monkey wrench into your normal day. The element of not knowing what’s around the corner keeps it interesting for me. You could be hooking up new service one day and then being dispatched in the middle of the night for an area devastated by a storm.
What's the hardest part?
Filor: As much as I enjoy my job by establishing new power or restoring power, having to leave my family for an extended callout to another region is always difficult. Even being called out for a local outage and having to miss my son’s birthday party is hard. But that’s part of the commitment you make when you take on this role.
Do you have a favorite story from you work in the field?
Filor: One year we had a really bad storm come through. There were a lot of outages and customers were without power both day and night. One of the restores that I was working at was a residence where I made a new acquaintance, the little five-year-old daughter of the household. By the time I got the power turned back on for them, that acquaintance had become a friend. The little girl had made me a friendship bracelet as a thank you for getting her electricity back on. And yes, I still have the bracelet as a special keepsake.
What do you wish the average utility customer understood about your job?
Filor: Most of our customers are good people and do have an understanding of the process taking time and not having control of everything at once, much like any process in life. We are here to help, the whole reason we do the job is to help our customers. What some don’t always realize is that I may have just gotten pulled away from my family or woken at 1:00 in the morning to help get the power back on. We always encounter customers that are very appreciative while some are upset with events happening, and we try to help them understand the process or delays.
What do you wish the average utility executive understood about your job?
Filor: Our management team is always supportive of us, but they don’t always truly understand what it’s like in the trenches on a day-to-day basis. Linemen have a very inherent risk with the work we do. There are long hours, severe weather conditions, training requirements, safety requirements, etc. to deal with daily. All of these circumstances can be demanding on their own or as a combination. Typically, local supervision has come up through the ranks as linemen themselves, so they have a firsthand knowledge. Executive management may or may not have the actual hands on experience to truly appreciate what is involved mentally and physically.
What advice would you give others looking at becoming a lineman?
Filor: Personally I don’t want to advise people but like to tell them the facts that I’ve encountered in my career. This is a very hard and demanding role that you take on. When you first start in the career process, you will need to be physically and mentally fit. There is a lot of training, a lot of knowledge that needs to be retained, as you will be tested annually on it and your life depends on it. I started in this field because I wanted to help provide people with a daily basic need. I find that my dedication goes a long way in my profession and is extremely rewarding at the end of that long day when I finally get to hang up my hardhat and put away my tools.
What has being a lineman taught you?
Filor: To live life with appreciation and make the time spent outside of work with friends and family count to the fullest. There are never any guarantees in life. Here at Duke, we strive very hard to make sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day. Unfortunately life does happen and we aren’t always fortunate enough to achieve that goal every single day. So I take time to appreciate the quality and quantity of health and happiness in my life.
Filor was part of the senior journeyman team that won the 2014 Florida Lineman’s Rodeo and placed fifth in the 2014 International Lineman’s Rodeo. His team also earned a spot to compete again in the world competition again this year.
Duke celebrated linemen on March 31, 2015, a day requested as National Linemen Appreciation Day by U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) with resolutions. Electric co-operatives celebrated linemen on April 13 and, in Georgia, it’s officially celebrated on April 18 by the state, a day originally set aside in 2013 by the U.S. Senate (and also celebrated in other areas as well). No matter what day is your choice this month to celebrate linemen, I’m sure they feel the love.
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