Dennis McDade
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Spotlight on the Line Trade: Dennis McDade of Dominion Energy

Jan. 18, 2019
For Dennis McDade, the rewards of being a lineman outweigh the challenges.
  • Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Is the oldest of two sisters and a younger brother.
  • Married with two young sons who love building simple circuits and constructing with Legos. He says they may follow in their daddy’s footsteps in the utility field in the future.
  • His mother worked for First Energy in Akron, Ohio, for 39 years before recently retiring.
  • Enjoys outdoor activities, sports and visiting museums, amusement parks and famous landmarks. He has also studied the mixed martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing, and boxing for the past five years.

Early Years
After serving for four years in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter jet pilot, I worked as a field technician for Cox Communications for a year. During a routine trouble call, I repaired cable reception for a Dominion Energy manager. He asked if I would be interested in working for the utility, and I jumped at the opportunity. After I placed well on the job placement test, I was offered a scholarship to attend a 16-week program at Southeast Lineman Training Center to study the basics of becoming an overhead lineman. I graduated at the top of my class and started a position as an apprentice overhead lineman with Dominion Energy in January 2007.

Day in the Life
For the past six years, I have served as an electric serviceman 1st class for Dominion Energy. I am the first responder to all trouble calls in Fairfax, Virginia, on our distribution system. I assess outages and damages to determine the necessary steps to restore power to our customers and repair broken wires, blown primary fuses, transformers and most lights out and partial power calls in my local area.

Challenges and Rewards
The biggest challenge I face as a lineman is knowing that I have a very dangerous job. Climbing 40-ft utility poles to working out of a bucket truck in very adverse weather conditions to adding the element of working with close to 40,000 V can be a little scary at times. The rewards, however, outweigh the challenges by far. Just knowing that our hard work and dedication helps to restore electricity to hospitals, caregivers, rescue first responders, commercial businesses and local residents, it’s well worth it.

Safety Lesson
While on a construction crew at Dominion Energy back in 2012, I was doing a routine meter install. After performing the necessary safety checks, I proceeded to install the new meter, which exploded instantaneously. It caused a huge arc flash right in front of me at eye level. Fortunately, I was wearing all of my personal protective equipment including an arc flash face shield, which added extra protection to my face and neck from arc flash heat and debris. Even though I did all of my safety checks in the meter base, the meter I was installing was a defective new meter, which is very uncommon in my field. PPE saved the day.

Memorable Storm
A snowstorm known as “Snowmageddon” hit northern Virginia in February 2010. I worked day in and day out, for over a week straight, tracking in 3 ft of snow to restore power to thousands of customers. This storm was a little more difficult than the usual storm because most of the roads weren’t plowed, and it was almost impossible to drive to the locations to restore power. My colleague and I had a four-wheel drive bucket truck with a tow-winch, so we were determined to make our way through the snow-filled roads to get electricity to our customers.

Life in the Line Trade
This choice to go into the power industry has afforded me many great opportunities to be a part of our safety culture, to work with like-minded individuals, to learn many new skillsets, to provide a great quality of life for my family, and most importantly, to serve my community just as I did in the military. The life of a lineman can be very stressful at times, especially working in a dangerous environment for long extended hours away from family and loved ones for many days. However, we know our customers depend on us to restore power to ensure their normal daily lives. Also, when we return home after a long hard day at work, our families greet us and call us their heroes.

Plans for the Future
My short-term goal is to advance in my career at Dominion Energy in a leadership role. I want to share my knowledge and experience with our new hires just as my mentors did with me when I first started. My long-term goal is to become an executive for the company and make a difference at Dominion Energy and my community for many years to come.

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