September 21, 2004
Recently, my good friend Donna and I had the pleasure of attending the sixth
annual Northeast Public Power Lineworkers’ Rodeo in Burlington Vermont.
Most days you will find us in the Customer Service Department at Hingham Light,
but on this glorious early autumn day, we found ourselves on the shores of
glistening Lake Champlain. Having never been to this part of the world, we
were awestruck by the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains framing this impressive
body of water.
What, you might ask, is a lineworker’s rodeo and what prompted us to
drive 4 ½ hours to attend one. The rodeo is a series of competitions
in which teams of three lineworkers demonstrate their skills in proper work
procedures with the emphasis on safety. Sitting in an office all day, we had
very little appreciation of what our coworkers in the field actually did.
Of course, like everyone else, we have seen linemen dangling from the tops
of poles but what was actually happening up there was a mystery to us. Now,
thanks to the rodeo, we have a much better understanding and respect for the
talent and skills of our associates who put themselves at risk every day working
around high-voltage power lines.
Our Hingham team was comprised of Kurt Gondveer, Anthony Fahie and Peter Ward
who took part in five events over a period of seven hours. In an open field,
adjacent to North Beach, approximately 20 poles were temporarily erected and
strung with wires providing a stark contrast against the brilliant blue sky.
A bicycle trail surrounding the field, hosted scores of curious onlookers
who no doubt wondered why their serene natural paradise was now dotted with
manned poles and power lines and upward-gazing spectators.
The competition began with a Speed Climb where participants must hold a raw
egg in their mouths as they descend the pole. The Transformer Change-Out involved
dismantling and lowering an 80-lb. transformer to the ground, raising it up
again and re-installing it. This is a formidable task considering you’re
suspended by 2 spindly spikes in your boots and a belt to lean back on for
45 minutes. Also included was a fuse cut out and cross arm replacement. Most
impressive of the events was the Hurt Man Rescue in which the participant
must climb the pole, rescue an injured worker, in this case a 150 lb. mannequin,
lower it to the ground and return to the ground himself employing both speed
We were most proud of our Team’s performance. Anthony Fahie, with only
2 years under his belt as a lineman, was calm, cool and collected. Peter Ward
was impressive as the ground worker, we never realized he could move so fast.
Kurt Gondveer, well there’s only one word for him and that’s Spiderman.
Watching him descend a pole is a sight to behold, that alone was worth the
price of the trip.
We came away with a deeper respect and appreciation for the strenuous and dangerous
work these men perform. They are putting their lives on the line (literally)
every working day to keep electricity flowing to our customers. Thank you
Guys, and we’ll definitely be there next year.
Connie Chapman – Customer Service Supervisor