You can learn a lot in classrooms, through online computer instruction and hours of study, but when it comes to being a lineman there are some techniques that are best taught in the rarified air aloft, where most line crews spend at least a portion of their work day.
That is the idea behind the Grand Junction, Colo.-based Mesa Hotline School, which holds two one-week sessions in which students climb structures or man aerial buckets to simulate real world line maintenance scenarios, with the help of utility and electric industry instructors who definitely know the ropes in this business.
“Students at the school learn to change out a cross-arm, strings of insulator bells, perform a steel tower rescue and many other procedures that are part of a lineman’s routine duties,” explained Clint White, field training specialist at Tri-State’s Ogallala, Neb., field facility.
Tri-State has been an active member and supporter of the Mesa Hotline School for more than 20 years. This year, four linemen – two from the West Side crew and two from the East Side – conducted classes during the first and second weeks of May.
During the first week, linemen Josh Colyer from Durango and Mark Field from Craig provided instruction. The second week had Cheyenne-based linemen John Fournier and Mike Holst providing professional mentoring.
The Mesa Hotline School was formed in 1966 by electric industry manufacturers and electric utilities to establish a formal training program for linemen. The school is designed to acquaint and upgrade linemen with approved practices and supervising skills used in the electric industry.
In addition to Tri-State’s involvement with the school, several of the association’s member systems also have a longstanding alliance with Mesa through participation on its various committees, donations of equipment and recruiting graduates from its highly touted program.