• Born in Phoenix, Arizona.
• Has a son and a daughter.
• Enjoys working out, riding four-wheelers at the sand dunes, camping and taking road trips.
• Always has his Bierer voltage meter with him so he can test for high voltage.
My father worked as a lineman in northwest Ohio and then in Arizona as a lineman and troubleman for Arizona Public Service (APS) for 27 years. I remember whenever our family was riding in the car, my father would do line patrol and point out power lines and electrical equipment. My dad loved his job and was always telling us stories of his crazy coworkers and of the interesting things he saw and did. My dad helped me join the union and get a job at APS as a supplemental meter reader.
Day in the Life
I am currently working as a lineman on a maintenance dock in the Phoenix metro area. Prior to this position, I was a lineman/troubleshooter for more than nine years. A typical work day includes working emergency outage restoration, but most of the time, we change out old poles, transformers and switching cabinets. APS is also making some enormous changes to our operating systems by adding an advanced distribution management system. While this is a very large project, I am involved in a small way by ensuring that the field workers have the tools they need to use this new technology. This has been a great learning experience. It has taught me how complicated these new technologies are as well as how they can make us more efficient and better at our jobs.
Challenges and Rewards
One of the biggest challenges working in the utility industry is finding the work-life balance while working long hours and at odd times. Some of the biggest rewards can come from keeping our customers’ lights on or getting them back on after they have been off for an extended period of time. Our work matters to a large number of people, and we should take pride in that.
I remember when a piece of equipment did not break load and started a large fire right in front of me. I followed our safety rules by staying at a safe distance and wearing the correct safety equipment. I only suffered very minor effects from the fire, but that day, I learned a very valuable lesson about why we have certain rules and why we must follow them.
A few years ago, a large monsoon storm hit the Phoenix metro area, initially affecting 50,000 customers. It looked like a war zone around our downtown area with downed poles and debris everywhere. I couldn’t believe the things we found hanging and tangled in our primary and secondary lines. During the third straight day of working through the night, I drank a Monster energy drink, hoping to get a pick-me-up. As I sat in my trouble truck, I thought of all my coworkers and how our whole company pulled together to put our city back together again. I had a moment of incredible pride in what I do for a living and the company that I work for. Boosted from that pride, and maybe some of that caffeine, I put my truck in drive and rolled to the next trouble ticket on a long list of work that still needed to be done. Storm work is some of the most challenging and rewarding work we do.
Following in My Father’s Footsteps
A few years before I became an apprentice, my father passed away from cancer. I used my dad’s climbing tools all the way through my apprenticeship and still climb with his old hooks today. Every time I grab those hooks, I think about how he thought I would always be a good lineman. I have the pleasure of working at the same dock he worked and with a lot of the same guys he worked with back in the day. I think about him every day and know he would be proud of me because of my commitment to safety and how I’m trying to instill that in my kids.
Life in the Line Trade
If I had to do it all again, I would go into line work in a second. I feel it’s a rewarding career where you have the chance to work with some incredible people, provide a valuable service to the public, and make a great living and provide for your family. And have some fun at work, because we do have fun. Plans for the Future My plans for the future are to continue working at APS, be the best father I can be, and to make things just a little better each day.