Keeping the light on

What does an electric lineman do?

While it takes each employee across all departments to keep operations running smoothly at Vera Water and Power, one of the more visible jobs is that of a lineworker. You may see one of ours working 35 feet (or more) overhead or maintaining lines at ground level.
On any given day or night, and in all kinds of weather conditions, these specialized workers install and maintain overhead and underground electrical systems. Components of these systems include power lines, transformers, fuses, insulators, substations, and other
related equipment. Safety comes first Lineworkers must commit to safety above all else. They spend numerous hours in safety trainings each year and must understand and apply crucial safety regulations.

Electrical lineworkers are specially trained to:

  • Climb poles to service power lines in areas inaccessible by trucks.
  • Stand in an elevated bucket to assess and repair overhead lines.
  • Install poles, overhead lines, and other equipment.
  • Work on both energized and deenergized lines.
  • Install and service underground lines.

Protective clothing is required to shield lineworkers since they work around high voltages. Collectively, gear components can weigh up to 45 pounds.

The Vera Water and Power line crew includes:

  • Seven journeymen-linemen
  • One apprentice lineman
  • One meterman/electrician, and
  • One utility locator.

This group of professionals collectively bring 170 years of service and experience to our District. Over the course of the past year, the crews have been working in small groups to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Even with this challenge, our line crews were extremely busy constructing new infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the Spokane Valley. Some of this work included rebuilding the three-phase power lines along Sprague Avenue.
As part of the cooperative spirit between our local utility companies, we have both accepted and provided mutual aid during times of extreme weather events and power outages. It is a true brotherhood.

Along with their formal educations and apprenticeships, our line personnel take continuing education and training courses to keep up with changing technologies, new systems, and, most importantly, safety.

With each training scenario, the crew divides up tasks with the goal of neutralizing a crisis in as little time as possible. One lineman may be operating the bucket truck. Another may be calling 911. All the while crews must keep in mind that energized wires, extreme heights, and the victim could all be working against them.

The training doesn’t stop once the victim is brought to the ground. All Vera line crew and linemen are certified in CPR and use this training to keep safety skills sharp.