The City of Thomasville Utilities’ Electric Department linemen know what it means to work in some of the worst weather conditions. Electric linemen and other electric crew members are called to spring into action when the winds are howling and rain is pouring, making an already extreme job even more dangerous. Weather that requires most people to stay safely indoors is exactly when these City of Thomasville staff members spring into action.
“Our electric crews are extremely hardworking, dedicated and professional,” said Bruce Whittington, Director of Electric Engineering and Operations, “Weather can be unpredictable and can change quickly, but our crews ensure that no matter what the conditions, our customers will have the most reliable electric service possible.”
On April 8th, the City of Thomasville Utilities’ Electric Department will join other electric providers nationwide in celebrating the hardworking men and women who keep the lights on.
“The line crew for the City of Thomasville Utilities’ department includes electricians, apprentice linemen, groundsmen, and tree trimmers,” said Brent Alderman, Electric Distribution Superintendent and lineman. “Each person is integral to our team. They represent the first responders in our community when electric service is impacted.”
Electricity is delivered along a series of connected wires and poles. When that connection is interrupted by something like a fallen branch or faulty equipment, crews respond quickly. “Our number one priority is to safely rebuild and restore services as quickly as possible,” Whittington said.
City of Thomasville Electric operations staff members work to do just that in the case of every outage, whether big or small. For example, during the peak of Hurricane Michael, 90% of City of Thomasville utilities customers were without power. “Our crews worked extended hours over several days to bring our community back to full restoration,” said Alderman. “We take pride in working as safely and as quickly as possible to bring service back to our customers when outages occur.”
It is important to note that the City of Thomasville Utilities’ Electric Department has worked particularly diligently in recent storms. “Hurricane Michael dramatically impacted our community, but our crews were working as soon as it was safe to do so to provide power back to our community,” said Alderman. “Not only that, but when severe weather such as the recent tornado in Cairo impacted that community, our crews answered the call to help.”
The path to lineman is one that involves many hours of training and preparation to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to safely work with electricity. “The first level within our department is that of groundsman, which requires only the ability and desire to learn,” said Alderman. “Groundsmen work in the field and also attend training classes presented by the Electric Cities of Georgia (ECG) to become certified.”
Once certified, a groundsman has the opportunity of being promoted to apprentice lineman. “The lineman apprenticeship involves three years of field experience and applied classroom training to become certified by ECG,” said Alderman. “Once certified, an apprentice lineman then completes an on-the-job training program to show proficiency at meeting field requirements and benchmarks.”
According to Whittington, this phase involves advancing his or her skills and working on energized lines and transformers in both outage situations and for routine powerline maintenance. “Showing proficiency in both field work and safety procedures is equally important,” Whittington said.
When the apprentice demonstrates that he or she has the skills and knowledge required to be a lineman, a training test is given on the job. “If the candidate is successful, the apprentice advances to a lineman,” said Alderman.
In addition to Alderman, the City of Thomasville Utilities’ Electric Operations line crew includes lineman and distribution supervisor Terry Henderson; lead linemen/crew leaders Jarrett Turnbull, Rudy Thompson, and Steven Humphries, linemen Scott Stephens, Jeremy Layton, Joe Lane, Jacob Gunn, and Jesse Mayfield, electrician Ben Spencer, apprentice linemen Dusty Rodgers, Jeffrey Highsmith, Bryce Gay, Taylor McWade-Murray, Jeremy Baker, Chad Young, and Curtis Eidson; tree trimmer/crew leaders Thomas Phillips, Richard Dukes, and Robert Prosser, and tree trimmers Austin Smith, Preston Young, and Chanse Hurst.