April 18 is National Lineman Appreciation Day – a reminder to thank the ones who put “the fire in the wire” to keep your life running

Lineman Anthony Faison Jr., with Tampa Electric's Western Service Area, makes safety his top priority as he works to restore electric service.

Lineman Anthony Faison Jr., with Tampa Electric’s Western Service Area, makes safety his top priority as he works to restore electric service.

The world has many critically important, potentially dangerous jobs that require comprehensive training, physical strength and strength of character, extensive technical knowledge and good intuition. Think of emergency workers; they may have the skills to fight fires but hope they won’t have to. In the Tampa Bay area, think of the military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base – who might find themselves in combat and under fire even as they would prefer the safety and security that human beings want generally.

Lineworkers – the people who work at all hours on the front lines of the electrical system to ensure that the community has safe, reliable electrical power – deal with fire of a different kind: the “fire in the wire” of highly energized equipment.

These are the people who, in many ways, keep the world running. Your lights on. Your stove hot and your home’s air cool. Your electronics operational. And unlike military personnel and emergency workers, the potential dangers they face are always there because electricity never stops flowing to the community – and that, of course, is a good thing.

Lineworkers are committed to it.

Tampa Electric's line trucks always draw excited crowds at the annual USF Engineering Expo.

Tampa Electric’s line trucks always draw excited crowds at the annual USF Engineering Expo.

While “lineworker” or “lineman” may be commonly understood terms, this type of work includes a number of roles. They range from substation electricians to groundman equipment operators and network specialists, meter mechanics and service restoration troublemen, distribution design technicians and streetlight repair personnel. In the end, it includes those who perform the full spectrum of work related to planting TECO poles in the ground, working at the tops of them in bucket trucks and doing things like installing devices called reclosers that increase the reliability of our system – and, in effect, making sure power gets safely from TECO to you. (And from other utilities to their customers when needed.)

And yes, it includes women too.

At TECO, and at all Emera companies, safety is more important than anything else – something that quickly becomes evident when you consider the training: four intense years of classroom learning and hands-on work at our Skills Training Center and in the community as journeymen. The Power Pros training program that TECO offers is highly respected, so much so that you’ll find it in place at other utilities in the U.S., the Caribbean and Latin America. At the same time, we’re always working to enhance the quality of our training with new processes and equipment.

Winter Haven Lineman Ralph Snearly, pictured here, submitted a proposal through TECO's Continuous Improvement program to build new avian nesting platforms out of composite materials.

Winter Haven Lineman Ralph Snearly, pictured here, submitted a proposal through TECO’s Continuous Improvement program to build new avian nesting platforms out of composite materials.

The rigors of the training bring those in the program together with bonds that often last a lifetime. Each year, they celebrate their hard-earned graduation. Some of them rise to the highest levels of company leadership.

And they work in shifts covering all hours of the day, every day of the year, to serve you. They sought out tough jobs because they had the confidence to master them – and they do. They have our confidence, and on National Lineman Appreciation Day and always, they deserve your confidence in them too. On social media, you might consider recognizing the incredible value they bring the community – to you and your household.

No matter what, just remember that across the nation and in your neighborhood, they’re out there right now, working hard in challenging situations, always focused on safety and your service.

Thank you, lineworkers and related personnel at TECO and everywhere.

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