Tdworld 987 Darin Mcmurdo

Darin McMurdo: Manitoba Hydro

Jan. 1, 2013
Manitoba Hydro

Early Years

One of my friends' older brothers was a lineman, which got me interested in the power industry. I also saw a crew working in my area following a storm, and it piqued my interest.

I was 22 when I first started as a lineman trainee. In this role, I worked on de-energized circuits under the guidance of the qualified journeymen. We had six trainees on our crew, and we all learned through on-the-job training. Our training yard had de-energized lines, which were set up for certain tasks going on in the field.

Working Live

Five years into my job, I was able to go from working de-energized to working live. At that point, I learned how to do 500-kV insulator changes energized. It was nerve-wracking at first, but then I really began to enjoy working with the hot line tool guys.

I spent two years with live-line tools as a trainee and then worked in some various temporary appointments in maintenance as a live-line journeyman and a senior live-line journeyman. I also spent three years working with our training department to train new linemen.

After a stint in customer service, I returned to line maintenance as a permanent live lineman and then as a permanent senior live lineman. In 2009, I worked with the construction department as a construction supervisor and was responsible for planning work. Our three overhead crews and three crews throughout the western part of the province spent 18 months there, and then I worked as a line maintenance supervisor. In February 2012, my job became permanent.

Day in the Life

As a line maintenance supervisor, I am responsible for watching the budget and making sure it stays on track. I also help the supervisors set up contracts with external contractors for vegetation management.

After moving from the field to the office, I miss being out with the guys, climbing poles, using tools and working in a bucket. I am fortunate enough to get out in the field for safety visits and to plan projects with the supervisors. During these visits, I look to make sure the linemen are wearing their personal protective equipment, are using the proper grounding methods and are following safe work procedures. I also ensure the lines are de-energized and the bucket trucks are bonded.

Current Projects

Manitoba Hydro just faced a major storm with 18 inches of snow. A lot of the conductors were down, and we had a significant restoration effort underway to get the customers back in service and set new poles. Wires were hanging on the ground, and a fire burnt four homes within one day.

Our crews are also working to help one of our northern crews with 30 H-line structures. We just finished reconductoring on our 230-kV and 115-kV lines, and we're working on line maintenance deficiencies. Some of our patrol groups are focusing on vegetation management to widen the rights-of-way to meet NERC requirements.

Safety Lesson

I've never been injured on the job, but back in 1995, I had a near-miss when our crew was pulling conductor on a H-line structure. As we were splicing the conductor, installing the sleeve and making the repair, the arm broke. Fortunately, we moved out of the area before we started to put tension on the conductor and pull it into place. If we would have stayed in that location, the conductor would have fallen on the bucket truck. After that incident, we came up with a new method to secure the arm.

Memorable Storm

In 1991, we had a storm around Glastone, Manitoba. We were working late one evening to roll ice on a three-phase line. Our foreman drove back to the work location and then immediately came back to shut the crew down. About a mile ahead of where we were working, the poles had started snapping and falling like dominos. We were about to head right into that area before our foreman stopped us.

  • Born in Deloraine, Manitoba.

  • Married to his wife, Madonna, for 19 years and has two kids, Carter and Taylor.

  • Enjoys mountain biking, hunting and watching his son play hockey and his daughter figure skate. His family also likes to go camping and boating.

  • His team describes him conscientious, reliable and a team player.

  • Can't live without potential indicators, insulated sticks, and personal protective equipment, especially rubber gloves.

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