Born in Albany, New York and has a brother and a sister.
Married and has a 10-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son.
Traveled the country while serving in the military.
Is the only lineman in his family, but his father is doing consulting work for southeast utilities and private co-ops for energy efficiency and demand-side response.
Enjoys spending time with his family and allowing his kids to experience all the things he wasn’t able to do growing up. He also likes to visit the shooting range and go scuba diving.
After getting out of the Air Force and working at a home improvement store, I missed the outdoors and was referred to “Helmets to Hardhats,” a Web site that helps veterans get into construction jobs. In the Air Force, I was a classified munitions technician and learned the value of attention to detail, watching out for your “brother” and constant and quick thinking, knowing that any poor decisions could potentially cost the lives of many.
Within the first hour of my first day of being an apprentice, I knew that this was going to be the right job for me. I was working in western New York on a wind farm project installing a new sub-transmission line to run from the wind generators to the substation. It seemed like there was so much going on at all different locations along the job, but the general foreman and foreman all had a clear picture of what needed to be done and when.
Day in the Life
I am a general foreman for D&D Power—a division of BHI Energy. I am responsible for ordering material and poles and calling in Dig Safes to have underground utilities marked. I also ensure that the crews have the tools and equipment that they need and they are receiving the necessary on-the-job experience from the linemen who are teaching them.
Currently, I am overseeing a pole replacement job and two separate reconductor/circuit gap closing jobs. We have also installed several automated reclosers that can do this automatically or via remote from the control center.
Challenges and Rewards
On the contractor side, the biggest challenge is the flow of manpower. So much work is going on across the county and with that big “Gold Rush” in California starting and stopping, guys keep moving back and forth. Linemen will head out to California for the long hours and fire damage, work for several weeks, and then it stops, forcing them to return to the East looking for their next Local to work out of. I am constantly bringing in new linemen and having to train them. It may take a week or two for a lineman to learn and understand a different utility’s material and construction standards requirements, but after that, it’s just linework. My crews are all mixed from different parts of the country, but they all get along great, and that’s my reward. You’d be surprised how hard it is to keep 15 grown men from different worlds to work together safely and productively.
I remember the first time getting yelled at in this trade. I was sliding hard guard with a rope walking on the ground, and I was just tugging on it with all my might. I was underneath hot phases and shaking them so hard I was almost slapping them together and pulling them to the ground.
Everyone always thinks of safety after an accident, and I know some people believe all accidents are preventable. If you take the time to protect the work zone with traffic signs, cones and wheel chocks and perform a good written and verbal tailboard, your chances of an accident are minimal. We learn from our mistakes, but we need to take the time to teach others about our mistakes and the accidents we have witnessed so that they don’t get repeated. I am a firm believer in weekly safety talks and discussing near misses and accidents that have happened around us.
Hurricane Sandy has to be the most memorable storm. We spent a week in northern New York to assist a utility and then we were released to Long Island. It was late at night, and we were replacing several sections of down wire when we heard several explosions. A fire chief came flying into our work zone and started screaming at us that we needed to turn the power off to the entire neighborhood. No one had any idea that the storm surge had shifted the houses on their foundations. The gas lines got damaged, filling some of the houses with natural gas. Once the power was turned on, it created the spark, igniting the house. Thankfully the damaged houses were vacant. Before any further houses had their power restored, each house was thoroughly inspected.
Life in the Line Trade
There are many days I go home exhausted or get a nearby hotel room because I’m too tired to make the drive back home. At the same time, I love what I do every day. Every pole and every storm is a different challenge. I have worked with a lot of great people from around the country and learned all their different terminologies and methods for getting the job done. I miss being in my tools on that bucket. By being able to be on the ground teaching others what I know and working out a plan to restore power after a storm or pulling wire, I go home knowing I helped build that and I helped get their power back on.
Plans for the Future
Now that my kids are getting more self-sufficient, I want to finish my bachelor’s degree in construction safety. I am only a few classes away and have put so much time into it that I just want to have that piece of paper. Planning another beach vacation with the family sounds really good right now as well.
Attention linemen: Do you know of a lineman or field manager who we could profile in a future Lifeline/Spotlight on the Line Trade? Email Field Editor Amy Fischbach with his or her photo and a description of why he or she would be a good person to profile.