April 18 was National Lineman Appreciation Day. A national day of recognition putting a spotlight on the dangerous and challenging lives of power line workers. Border States appreciates all that they do, and we #ThankALineman every day!
There was a time when lineman work was men’s work. Over the years, women have been breaking down barriers and joining the ranks of the hard working trade that helps make sure the power stays on. Like their counterparts, they brave the blustery cold and the blistering heat. They lug the same tools and cables across the landscape. And, they scale the same 40- to 80-foot poles and towers. There are no free passes for anyone. Easy is not a word you will hear mentioned when it comes to the journey it takes to become a lineman but most agree, every day brings an amazing sense of satisfaction and pride as they work to make a difference.
Many of these women come from a history of linemen: fathers, uncles, grandfathers. Others wanted a challenge and/or a career change. But with around 8 percent of the workforce made up by females, women are often trailblazers in their towns/regions, countless holding the title of “first woman lineman” at their place of work or their graduating class—or both.
In 1978, Diane Hoyle was the first women lineman in all of Columbus, Georgia. “I decided to become a lineman because I wanted to work outdoors. I was a tomboy as a child and even built my own tree house, so you could say I had a little experience. My husband, William, encouraged me to give the job a try. After work, I liked to drive around town and show him the wires I’d spliced that day.”
Sam Randby is another one of those trailblazers. Randby came from a family of linemen. She notes “My dad would tell me stories about all the places he worked across the country and how great an experience it was. Occasionally, while working around Duluth, he and my grandpa would be out on the same trouble call…One night, when I was away at line school and doing homework, I got a text from my dad. ‘I’m proud of you’ was all it said, but those four words meant the world to me.”
Shannon Skinner, a lineman and foreman out of Nevada shared that “Every project that I drive away from is my favorite project…I run across different challenges every day. And, it’s so exciting.”
The training is hard. Long days performing difficult tasks in the field are followed by long nights preparing for written exams. Safety, climbing, drilling and more are covered in these programs and fellow students become close quite quickly, knowing they must depend on each other for safety and to help make sure the job gets done. Not everyone makes it through the grueling apprenticeship program, but for those who do, a career filled with adventure, comradery and a good paycheck await, along with a great amount of appreciation.
When the lights go out, so do our men and women linemen.
In conjunction with National Lineman Appreciation Day, BSE is helping Hubbell Power Systems and Tytan Pictures by promoting the release of “Storm Soldiers II”. This film highlights the hard-working Americans who work in the electric utility industry.
Hubbell Power Systems and Tytan Pictures Release Storm Soldiers II
Storm Soldiers II is the second installment of the Tytan Pictures project examining the lives and careers of the brave men and women who work in America’s electrical utility industry. In partnership with Hubbell Power Systems and Chance Lineman Grade Tools, Storm Soldiers II showcases the hardworking Americans who work in the industry. This story is about the linemen and the industry’s impact on their lives and families. Juxtaposing the linemen at home against their work and how their families see their jobs, Storm Soldiers II also documents what it’s like for linemen to work in dangerous and extreme conditions. Linemen often arrive to disaster scenes before first responders in order to ensure safety for rescue crews and help restore infrastructure. With a dynamic look at the struggles and triumphs of bringing electricity to communities, the film follows the linemen home to see their families’ reactions to their work and the impact the chaos has on both environments. These men and women represent the over 100,000 linemen in America who work without complaints or excuses.
This award-winning movie is a tribute to the men and women who put their lives on the line and even though only one day is nationally recognized, we #ThankALineman every day.