ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – You’ve probably seen them along the side of the road and up in their buckets working on power lines.
They are the City of Escanaba linemen. Each year on April 18, linemen are recognized by their communities.
The linemen of Escanaba keep electricity flowing to homes and businesses throughout the city.
“The overhead lines that you see running through town, they take care of the poles, the wires, the transformers, everything related to that distribution system,” said City Utility Director Gerald Pirkola.
In addition to those day-to-day operations, linemen are often called in to work after storms to deal with fallen power lines. Pirkola says fallen lines can be extremely dangerous if not handled by a professional.
“That high voltage, when it’s on the ground, can spread out a distance where someone could be electrocuted,” he explained. “So if you see a line on the ground, stay away from it, call 9-1-1, and we’ll come out and take care of it.”
It can be tough work.
“Things don’t just happen instantly,” said journeyman lineman Jake Hart. “Some things take some time. It’s not just the flip of a switch.”\
However, the crew loves what they do.
“As long as you’re not afraid of heights, I think it’s the best trade in the world,” said John Rogers, journeyman lineman and foreman.
“It’s a different environment, different types of weather, different types of work,” said journeyman lineman and foreman Jacob Cronick. “Every day is a little different.”
Many linemen start their journey with a nine-month training course. Then, they begin work as an apprentice.
For the next four years, apprentices take two weeks of classes each year to continue their training. After completing 7,000 hours of work, they become a journeyman.
“If someone’s thinking about becoming a lineman, I would definitely say look into it,” said current apprentice Andrew Kolich. “It’s a cool trade to be in.”
Escanaba’s linemen say it’s a privilege to serve their community. Their favorite part of the job is the camaraderie they have developed while working on the lines.
“Everyone’s looking out for each other and has each other’s backs,” Hart said. “It’s kind of a little family.”
“They’re more than a friend,” said Rogers. “It’s a brotherhood.”