Alabama Power lineman believes job is a calling for those who choose it

Alabama Power lineman believes job is a calling for those who choose it
Alabama Power linemen in the Southeast Division admit the work isn't for everyone but it's what they love doing. (Brittany Faush / Alabama NewsCenter)

Not everyone is cut out to be a lineman. The work is strenuous, weather conditions can be extreme and you need to be in good physical condition and attentive to detail. But, for those who like the work, it is a satisfying profession.

“It can be a dangerous job with long hours,” Alabaam Power Valley Lead Lineman Joe Eldred says. “You’re going to miss birthdays, anniversaries and other events. If you’re looking for a 9 to 5 job, this isn’t it. But if you want a rewarding job where you can make a difference, then being a lineman might be for you.

“We are out there every day working to help people, developing a rapport with our customers,” Eldred said. “It makes the long hours worthwhile when you know you’re doing something that is going to make someone’s life easier.”

Chris Denney, a lineman on Eldred’s crew, knew from an early age he wanted to be a lineman.

Southeast Division linemen at Alabama Power feel called to the line of work from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“I would see the Alabama Power trucks going down the road, and I would tell my friends, ‘That’s going to be me one day.’ I love being a lineman,” Denney said. “There is a lot of satisfaction in this job. I had uncles who were linemen growing up and I looked up to them. I admired them for the work they did and I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Denney won a school-sponsored drawing contest in third grade when he was 8. His submission featured a bucket truck, complete with a lineman in the bucket amid downed wires. The drawing still is displayed on his parents’ refrigerator.

Denney’s desire to become a lineman didn’t diminish as he grew older. Following graduation from Smiths Station High School, he abided by his parents’ wishes, took advantage of a scholarship and attended junior college for one year.

“I finished out the year, but I didn’t like it, so I enrolled in South Georgia Technical College in the Apprentice Lineman program,” Denney said. “I worked hard and when I finished, I was hired by Alabama Power as a utility assistant. I was 19 when I was hired. I had finally done it.

“I enjoy the teamwork involved in being a lineman,” he continued. “You have to trust and care for one another because we want our teammates to go home in the same condition they came to work. We may fight like brothers, but in the end, we care about each other.”

For Phenix City Lineman Cole Davis, being outside and doing something different each day is what first attracted him to the job. Linemen do much more than the obvious 24/7 preparedness for restoring power during unexpected outages. On a day to day basis, linemen maintain and upgrade the electric infrastructure to ensure reliable power. They install new services for residential customers or growing businesses. Every day is filled with a variety of work that takes skill and training to ensure safety.

“It’s very important that we can do our job safely,” Davis said. “We train and do safety checks, but we also look out for each other: We are like family.”

Once a month, Southeast Division line crews have a Safety Day, usually in conjunction with their monthly safety meeting.

“We are usually focused on doing the work, and our Safety Day gives the crews the opportunity to stop and check tools and equipment,” said Alan Grant, Engineering supervisor, Phenix City. “They follow a very comprehensive list verifying the condition of equipment. They have this time to perform a variety of housekeeping items, from cleaning their hot sticks to inspecting their rubber goods. We don’t want to get to a job site and discover equipment is not in working condition.”

Southeast Division Power Delivery General Manager Jim Freind agrees that being a lineman is not for everybody.

“It is a dangerous job,” Freind said. “When everyone else is running away from the fire, so to speak, our guys are moving forward to help restore normalcy. And they make it look easy because of their skill and the pride they have in their workmanship. These guys are true professionals and they do a great job.”

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