Let's hear it for 'lineman love'

Posted 10/3/22

The number one most sought-after person following a hurricane is always the lineman. He or she is both loved and hated depending on how quickly he gets the power …

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Let's hear it for 'lineman love'

Posted

OKEECHOBEE — The number one most sought-after person following a hurricane is always the lineman. He or she is both loved and hated depending on how quickly he gets the power restored.

People in Okeechobee are not exempt from “linemen love” and generally began thanking them before they even start work.

On The Scoup in Okeechobee Facebook page, there are hundreds of posts praising and thanking linemen, and the storm is only days behind us.

When one woman asked where the linemen were in Treasure Island, stating she had not seen any trucks, more than 100 people scolded her for asking.

“These linemen are doing their best. Some people have medical issues, some trees are leaning on wires and causing fires. These people are not taking care of their stuff cause they are taking care of ours. But I guess if they turned on your power first before everyone else you would feel differently about them,” said Dawn Landers.

Niki Frick said, “FPL had over 2 million customers without power. They give priority to hospitals and supermarkets and police stations/fire departments, then the fixes that give big chunks of customers their service back, then the smaller ones. Those linemen were up in cherry pickers as soon as the winds started getting below 40 mph and working their tails off in nasty weather and dangerous conditions. Be grateful if it’s back by Monday. If you don’t like it, next time be better prepared with a generator and other supplies or evacuate.”

“They will work in grids. Restoring power to places like schools and emergency services. From there they will work on places that they can assess and fix with the most people fixed with each issue. Once they get everything done that they can manage easily they will then go deeper and fix issue by issue. Some will fix entire roads. Then when all is fixed they will go house by house. The wires you are on are different than your neighbors. They may need different equipment etc. also if a cat 4 hurricane is coming and you have hundreds of dollars of food going to go bad, that is on you. This is hurricane season. You live in Florida. If your livelihood depends on electricity, you should have a generator. The linemen do not pick and choose who they serve. Professional tech support works TIRELESSLY to determine what to fix and how. While you were still sleeping last night, they were away from their families determining the best course of action for this town,” said Kristi Hall.

Have you ever wondered what exactly a lineman is? Is a lineman the same as an electrician? Where do they come from? Do they just travel from catastrophe to catastrophe, or do they do something else in between? How do you become a lineman? What do they get paid?

According to EnVue Telematics, a lineman is one of our nation’s most important jobs. Linemen usually work for utility companies and are some of the first to go out after a national disaster.

ElectricianAuthority.com says lineman and electricians are not the same. They do have some of the same basic training, but their day-to-day jobs are very different. All linemen are electricians, but not all electricians are linemen. A lineman is an electrician who works outside, installing and maintaining power transmission lines, telephone lines, Television and fiber optic cables. They not only fix broken lines, but they also repair transformers. They climb poles or use a bucket to reach the things they are working on. They often work with live electrical lines and have a very dangerous job. General electricians, on the other hand, are normally responsible for installing wiring within a building.  They run wires and cables and also repair and maintain electrical apparatus within the building.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says lineman typically spend their days doing the following jobs:

  • Install, maintain or repair power lines,
  • Identify defective devices, voltage regulators, transformers and switches,
  • Inspect and test power lines,
  • String power lines between poles, towers and buildings,
  • Climb poles and transmission towers and use truck-mounted buckets to get to equipment,
  • Operate power equipment when installing and repairing poles, towers and lines.

Divergent Allegiance states, “It takes years of training to become a knowledgeable lineman. A lineman starting out in the trade will be a lineman apprentice where he will learn the skills needed to become a journeyman lineman. Lineman can work for a utility company, an energy company or telecommunications company. Most linemen work with other linemen, this is known as a line crew consisting of typically 3-4 linesmen. Linemen report to managers or supervisors who tell the line crew where an electrical line is down and inform them if the electrical line in the given area was installed correctly and working properly."

According to Zip Recruiter, a lineman in Florida typically makes about $45,021 per year.

The day after the hurricane, Roy Wolf, who is a lineman, wrote a post on Facebook stating, “People without power can I please put you in a lineman’s eyes. I promise we are working as fast and as hard as we can. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., we are working on getting your power on. You have to understand that the entire state of Florida has 2 million customers out. That’s 2 million houses or businesses without power. We understand it’s hot because we are all out there with long sleeves, pants, rubber gloves and sleeves that collect sweat. A lot of these men and women are 3-4 days travel away from their families to get the power on as fast as possible. When you see those men and women in your neighborhood all grouped together it’s not to just play around it’s to have a safety meeting to make sure everyone goes home safe and knows what their role is and what they are doing from the newest guy that may only have been in this line of work for one day to the guy that has been in this field 40 years. We were out last night before the storm getting power turned back on to people that may only have power for a few more hours once the storm got worse. We don’t ask for a thank you all we ask for is patience to let us do our job. Your lights will be on soon it has only been 24 hours. I’ve spent 5 months in Puerto Rico and over a month in several states before everyone had power before I got to see my family again. Have patience and pray for these lineman to go home safe, because one wrong move and they are in a burn unit or their family is making funeral arrangements. We knew what we signed up for when we took this job to support our families but living in Florida you signed up for hurricanes and power outages.”

Four days after Hurricane Ian hit, FP&L reported all Okeechobee residents’ power had been restored. Approximately 90 Glades Electric customers were still waiting to have power restored.

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