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Spotlight on the Line Trade: Emma Landherr Chaine of IBEW Local 104

Nov. 18, 2021
As a journeyman lineman, Emma Landherr Chaine enjoys restoring power following storms.
  • Grew up in a small, rural town in Preston City, Connecticut, and has an older brother and sister.
  • Is the first lineman in her family. She comes from a family who worked in education. Her mom worked as an occupational therapist, her dad was a school administrator and a math teacher, her brother works as a professor in Boston, and her sister is a civil engineer in Seattle.
  • • Married to a journeyman lineman who she works with every day and on storms. They recently bought land, and they are planning to build a new home and start a family. She has an extensive collection of animals, including three mini pigs, and hopes to start an animal sanctuary on the land.
  • Enjoys traveling, hunting, fishing and being home with her animals. 
  • Likes wearing Heatwaves safety glasses, working with battery-powered crimpers and using the large rattle guns so hydraulic hoses don’t hang in her bucket.

Early Years
My parents really encouraged me to take the college route, so I graduated from the University of Maine in four years with my bachelor’s degree in science. I majored in aquaculture and minored in fisheries science. After college, I worked on commercial fishing boats on the East Coast. After my father retired, he taught a math course at a community college to keep himself busy. He suggested the linework program. I needed a better life path and a more stable income, so I went for it. At the time, I didn’t know anything about line work or anyone who was a lineman. When I graduated from my program, I had good grades but the local places in Maine weren’t interested in hiring a woman. While I was waiting to hear back from the union, I started working on cell towers on the weekends. I was then offered a spot in a boot camp, but I had to turn it down because of my new job. I regretted that choice, and after a year, I worked to reapply.

Day in the Life
For my first job in my apprenticeship, I worked for a company specializing in traffic lights and streetlights. They encouraged me to be an electrician and not a lineman, but in less than two months, I was sent to a high-line job. I’m now a proud journeyman lineman for IBEW Local 104. I’m not the first, but I believe I’m the only female lineman currently working in my Local. This summer, I painted towers for the first time. When I’m not on storms, I go back and forth between transmission and distribution jobs. Now I’m shifting my focus to chasing storms. I really enjoy storm work, and lately, I have been obsessed with checking the Hurricane Center for storms. The part of turning people’s power back on after a storm was what initially drew me into line work. The small town I grew up in would lose power during most storms, and they would be out for a week. I wanted to help and make a difference.

Safety Lesson
When I worked on cell towers, we were building a new monopole structure and didn’t have the proper rigging. The boss didn’t want to drive an hour back to get steel slings. The section we picked was more than the nylon slings were rated for. They picked it, it made it until it was standing up off the ground and the straps snapped. I was standing on the crane next to the operator and I jumped off and started running. He jumped too, just in time. The pole section crushed the cab he was sitting in.

Memorable Storm
One of my most memorable storm moments was probably when a woman in New Jersey called the cops on us for checking her meter. She started filming us and screaming at us how we couldn’t go into her house as we were walking back to our bucket. The cops came while we were on our way to our next ticket and looked at our paperwork. I can’t imagine high-vis clothing, hard hats and a lettered bucket truck with strobes on work great for home robberies.

Editor’s Note: T&D World is partnering with Milwaukee Tool for 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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