Brent Bell

Dec. 1, 2012
Southern California Edison
  • Born in Bellflower, California.

  • Married for 16 years to his wife, Melissa, and has two daughters, Aubrey and Alexis.

  • Describes himself as dedicated, honest, hardworking and a traditionalist.

  • Enjoys raising cattle and helping his daughters show heifers at the fair. He also likes to fish, hunt and spend time with his family.

  • Can't live without his Panasonic Toughbook in his truck as well as a digital camera, binoculars, range finder, long scope, spotting scope, lineman pliers and hammer.

  • Comes from a family with three generations of electricians.

He decided to become a lineman to honor his father and grandfather. His uncle also worked as a lineman and a close family friend was a third-generation lineman.

Early Years

My first job with Southern California Edison was working as a groundman back in 2005. I assisted linemen and apprentices on a transmission line crew. In this role, I observed aerial work and clearances of the boom, set up material and hand lines, prepared grounds for linemen and cleaned trucks. Then I completed an NJATC apprenticeship program, and in 2008, I topped out as a journeyman. It was one of my happiest days of my life to finally meet my lifelong goal.

Day in the Life

I now work as a senior patrolman in a remote area in the foothills and in the mountains of San Joaquin Valley, California. I'm proud to have ownership of my lines. I can clean up an area that is mine and be proud of the work that I have done.

When patrolling the line, we start at one section and then figure out how far we want to get that day. If we meet our goal, then we pick up where we left off the following day.

Working on Patrol

As a patrolman, I respond to accidents in which cars run into poles. Sometimes, I show up to find the car has been removed from the scene; in other cases, there might be a fatality and the person is still in the car.

When I'm asked to respond to a fire, I try to keep my distance and check in with the commander of the fire command center to learn how much has been contained, where it's going, what the plan is and what limitations we are under.

Challenges and Rewards

Our main challenges are outages and trying to deal with environmental restrictions. When you go into sensitive areas and have a lot of work to get done, it sometimes can take two weeks to do an environmental study, which can be frustrating. On the other hand, it's rewarding to know the clean-up of an area has an impact on the environment by making it appear cleaner, straighter and visually pleasant.

Right now, we have a big project in the San Joaquin Cross Valley Loop that will tie the Springville system with the Rector system. This project has been going for quite a few years because of environmental clearances and easements. They started in July of this year with actual work, and once they finish this project, I'll be responsible for maintaining a majority of it.

Safety Lesson

I've worked around live electricity for many years, and I've seen newer people come in who didn't have any electrical experience. I always explain to them how dangerous it is and how important it is to be plugged in at all times because you don't get a second chance. It is hard to respect something you can't see, which is the case, of course, with electricity.

Safety always has been part of what I do. I am part of the Safety Congress, which promotes safety in the field. I meet with six other transmission workers quarterly to discuss issues, work on solutions and then present our ideas to our managers. We've worked on a lot of different topics that have helped out our transmission department as a whole.

Memorable Storm

I remember when we traveled to Washington to provide mutual assistance. They had heavy rain and wind, and there were downed lines, broken poles and trees falling on lines. I was there for seven days, and I came home on Christmas Eve. From the moment we took the call to when we arrived to restore power to the small communities, they were so thankful and nice. It was a trip I will never forget.

Plans for the Future

I see myself progressing to a manager or a supervisor. I like leading, and I think I'm a decent people person. I like promoting safety, and I understand the guys in the field.

I enjoy line work because of the money, camaraderie and friends, and it's rewarding to keep lights on for customers. My kids know that when I get called out in the middle of the night, I'm helping people and providing value to my family.

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