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Spotlight on the Line Trade: Randi Blaser

May 11, 2023
Line work runs in the family for Randi Blaser, who has both a mom and a dad who worked in the trade.

Ameren Illinois

  • Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and has four siblings, Donnie, Crystal, Brittni and Dylan.
  • Mom of 14-month-old twins, Reigny and Beckett.
  • Enjoys relaxing at home, spending time with her kids and fixing up her house.
  • Can’t live without proper climbing tools because she says as a lineworker, you don’t know how many poles you will climb or how long you’ll be on a pole.
  • Bucket trucks, line trucks and power tools are essential along with new technology. Her crews are now learning how to access job packets on their iPads.
  • In her area, there is a lot of work with underground services due to new home construction.

Early Years

Both my parents are in the trade. My dad, Ben, did line work for Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L, now Evergy) and moved on to R&S Electric, and my mom, Susan, worked at KCP&L and now teaches the line tech program at Metropolitan Community College. I got interested in the trade back in my senior year of college at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri. I had been around line work my whole life, so it wasn’t new or exciting to me, and I wasn’t interested in it at first. One summer, however, my mom invited me and a close friend to come down to the school and just try the climbing portion of the class. After that, it was something I could see myself doing for a career.

Day in the Life

My first job working in the utility industry was as a groundman truck driver. In this stepping stone to my apprenticeship, I assisted the crews with ground work and learned about the basics. My current title is journeyman lineman for Ameren Illinois in Belleville, Illinois, and my responsibilities vary by the day. For example, I help to supervise apprentices, work with hot lines, do secondary work or perform troubleshooting. On a typical day, I show up in the crew room, review the safety message, stretch, discuss the jobs for the day and then load material and equipment. After we finish for the day, we head back to the plant to unload. My main responsibilities are to safely work on overhead and underground utilities and train the next generation of linemen. Right now, I’m working maintenance, new construction and on storms as needed. I plan to continue with these projects to get more experience.

Challenges and Rewards

Some major challenges for me have changed over the years, but one thing that will never change is my height. At 5 ft tall, I have to figure out different ways of doing things. At the same time, being short has its advantages too. Another major challenge is clothing. To be honest, women’s FR apparel is still relatively new, and to find clothing that works within Ameren’s policies is a challenge. I am in these clothes 40-plus hours a week, and I want it to fit me well. Some of the rewards of the job are overcoming challenges that arise on the job, seeing the work you did when you’re done. In storm situations, sometimes the people are so grateful you are there to help them. I am also thankful for the people who have become family to me and my twins through the years here.

Safety Lesson

When I topped out, I learned about the importance of job-site safety. As an apprentice, you have basically no responsibility, but when you top out, all of that changes. Now apprentices are looking at you for answers, and you must watch everything you and others are doing to be safe. Everybody sees things differently, so if you see something, you need to say something.

Memorable Storm

My most memorable storm would be the time we went to the Ozarks in Missouri. I was still an apprentice, but I was far enough along I could contribute and knew what was going on. There were poles and wire down everywhere, and I could see truck after truck after truck. It was a surreal experience. We were only on the project for two or three days. The working conditions weren’t bad compared to other storms. We worked in warmer weather and in the daylight. A tornado had gone through a small town, and we were assigned to fix anything broken on a circuit. This storm sticks out to me because I went with a good crew, and I could do most of the work, and it was fun. This experience is what made me really like line work.

Future Plans

If I had to do it over again, I would go the same route as I did. I feel like my learning experiences definitely shaped me into who I am as a lineman. My future plans right now are to just get more experience under my belt and continue to learn every day.

Caption: Line work runs in the family for Randi Blaser, who has both a mom and a dad who worked in the trade.

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