Brad Pollard | Safety & Training Officer
Central Valley Electric Cooperative
How many years have you worked at CVE?
Almost 16 years
What other positions have you held at CVE?
I started on a line crew (lineman) for 2 ½ years; then worked on a service truck (service man) for 12 years. I have been safety and training offer for three years.
What does a lineman do and what are some of the dangers of the job?
Linemen build and maintain power lines. We take the power from the generation point and get it to homes or businesses. The job entails dealing with dangerous levels of electrical current and it’s a job that needs attention to detail at every step. It’s not a job that will last long for you if you’re apt to taking shortcuts – shortcuts in our industry end up in tragedy.
What is the most terrifying or dangerous call you have been on as a lineman?
As dangerous as our job is, if you follow your protocols and do what you’re supposed to do our job is safe. But I will say that when we go out of our comfort zone, after storms and stuff to help other crews that we’re not accustomed to working with, it can be scary. We went down to help after Hurricane Katrina and it was just different – the area and surroundings were different and we were relying on different people than we were used to relying on. Those situations can be a challenge.
Are there any misconceptions about the job of a lineman or electric companies that we can help clear up?
One misconception that is starting to change a little is in relationship to first responders. A lot of people don’t think about the relationship between us and first responders, but we have to make sure things are safe so they can do their job. At CVE we have done a good job of trying to develop a good rapport with our first responders and it has helped. Our linemen do safety training and CPR training so they are prepared for emergencies.
Another misconception people have is when there are power outages people think we have folks in the office pushing buttons to get electricity back on. It doesn’t work that way. Our crews have to go out in person and find the issues so sometimes it takes a while.
What are some of the causes of power outages?
Anything from a wreck, lightning strikes, animals, customers equipment failure that blows back our fuses, falling trees…but I’d say the majority of it is related to storms. Usually when everyone else is going home we are going out to work.
What’s the best thing about working for CVE?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one or two things, but I’d say the people we work with and the people we work for are great. It’s the relationships! As we like to say here, we are a service company that deals in power, instead of a power company that deals in service. It’s a great feeling that when you leave a place where you’re returning their power or turning on new power their life is better because you’ve been there.
Free Safety Demonstrations
As part of their ongoing efforts to educate the public and private sectors of the community about electrical precautions and safety measures, CVE provides free safety demonstrations. If you would like to have them visit your place of business, school, organization, or event, call the office at CVE. Here are some of the basics:
- High Voltage Arcing demos
- Table top demos – this smaller version is a great option for schools and organizations with limited space
- Demos can be done at CVE or taken to the customer’s location
- Can be tailored to a specific industry
- No charge
- Inquire at CVE office
- Any other first responders interested in learning about CVE’s methods are encouraged to contact CVE as well
Interview originally published in Focus on Artesia 2019: Summer Edition.