Life of a linesman

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Ross MacArthur talks with two linesmen, giving directions on where they need to go to repair an outage.


It’s Monday morning and his crews have been working around the clock since the early hours Saturday morning to restore power for customers, but still there are some without electricity and they’re working as hard as possible to get it back for them.

“Right now we’re coming in here for 6 a.m. and working until 10 p.m. minimum,” says MacArthur, a local supervisor. “There’s no family life going on for anybody.”

You can tell by the black marks under his eyes that he too has been working long hours. In addition to just giving orders, he’s been out helping with repairs too.

The linemen sacrifice time with family, even birthday parties as they set their personal lives aside temporarily for the job.

“There’s some big dedication for these guys to try to do this for us,” he said.

Once a call comes in about an outage, two guys will respond to the call.

“They jump in their line truck and they go out and start investigating exactly what caused the outage – whether that’s a transformer or a branch on a line or whatever. They’re driving those roads or they’re walking the lines to try to find it. We’ve done a lot of walking through this one.”

The majority of the outages during this storm were caused by trees and limbs hitting the lines.

“It’s was kind of a prolonged high wind situation and with all the leaves now on the trees and the new growth on the trees, the trees were bending so far over, even if they were 20 feet from the line they were bending in the wind to the lines,” he said. “Trees were really our biggest issue.”

It can be challenging particularly during the storm with the strong winds to get the lines back in place. Personal safety is a priority and all the crew members make sure they wear protective equipment. They also have to make sure there is traffic control if they are doing a repair along a road.

If the outage is along a road, they typically use a bucket truck to reach the area they need to work on, but often, as was the situation in many of the outages in this storm, the damage is off the main road. For those repairs, the linesmen have to physically climb the pole while wearing proper safety equipment, to make sure the problem is fixed.

“It’s time consuming work,” he said.  “People think we can just switch a switch and it all comes back on and sometimes it is that easy, but a lot of times it’s not.”

On Twitter: NGNewsAdam

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