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Spotlight on the Line Trade: Chris Siford

Dec. 16, 2020
Chris Siford, a troubleman for Metropolitan Edison, has worked in the line trade for the last 35 years and considers his truck his rolling workshop.
  • Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Red Lion, York County, Pennsylvania, when his father relocated to the area for a job with IBM. 
  • One of five children, he grew up on a farm, beginning a lifelong love affair with tools and machinery — particularly tractors.
  • His dream job was to operate excavators, a skill he would develop as a first-class lineman, drilling to set poles and navigating rough terrain with track diggers and snowcats.
  • Married to Lynn for 32 years; son Chris is a journeyman electrician with IBEW 229, York; daughter Lauren is a registered nurse at Lancaster General Hospital.
  • When not restoring power to customers, he’s looking to bag a trophy deer or bear with his bow or land a trout in a Pennsylvania stream. 

Early Years
I enrolled in college but quickly decided it wasn’t for me. A high school pal convinced me to study to be an electrician, but I failed to land an electrician job after night school. I remember asking “Now what?” My dad asked me if he ever thought about working for Met-Ed and having a job for life. I signed on with the company in 1985 to work in the York, Pennsylvania, area. I enjoyed learning how to climb poles under the tutelage of the seasoned linemen who helped train me. When the old guys told me “get your tools and climb,” we did exactly what they told us to do — even if we could have used a bucket truck — because we had a lot of respect for them. After five years of study in 1990, I topped out as a first-class lineman.

Moving into a Troubleman Position
I now have 35 years of total line experience including more than a dozen years as a troubleman. Earlier in my career, I enjoyed working on a crew with other first-class linemen. It was a coveted position that offered good pay, plenty of opportunity for overtime and weekends off. I would later work up to lead lineman, overseeing my crew with a keen eye for safety. But it was the hands-on nature of the job that spurred me to exchange my lead lineman’s hard hat for that of a troubleman when the opportunity arose more than a decade ago. I always loved doing the work, and it drove me nuts watching other people doing it from the ground.

Day in the Life
A troubleman, by definition, is often the utility’s first responder to an outage or electrical problem. I relish working by myself and getting the job right the first time. Although I work solo most of the time, I know all 40 line workers in the York region. If there is too much work for any one person to handle, I’ll arrange for more crews and materials to get the job done easier and safer. I am committed to improving customer service reliability by making repairs so that the problem doesn’t reoccur. That might entail adding measures such as squirrel guards to prevent future animal-related interruptions in the same spot.

Memorable Moment
Nine or 10 years ago, a call came in from my supervisor one evening. The firemen needed me to pull a deceased man out of a transformer at the Caterpillar plant. Contractors were in the process of subdividing the shuttered heavy equipment assembly plant into spaces for smaller businesses. A man attempting to steal copper wire was killed after contacting energized equipment. My supervisor gave me the choice of not having to retrieve the body since Met-Ed did not own the industrial equipment at the former plant. I accepted the grim task because I wanted to keep the firemen safe. I was the one with testers, rubber sleeves and rubber gloves.

Plans for the Future
I plan to retire in five years and work part-time as a home electrician, installing service wiring in houses.

Editor’s Note: T&D World is excited to partner with Milwaukee Tool on a sponsorship for the linemen profiled in our Lifeline department. To thank the linemen for their dedication to the line trade, Milwaukee will send a tool package to each lineman profiled. If you are interested in being profiled in our monthly Lifeline department or know of a journeyman lineman who would be a good candidate, email T&D World Field Editor Amy Fischbach at [email protected].

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