Current Light Flashes
Outage Center My Account

Current Light Flashes

The official voice of West Florida Electric Cooperative:

April 2024

Powering Life, from a Lineman's Perspective

Back to Light Flashes

Lineworkers are ranked as one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country. Linemen at West Florida Electric Cooperative work rain or shine, in often challenging conditions to ensure you have reliable electricity. We're recognizing our linemen this month as we celebrate Lineman Appreciation. The following column was contributed to & written by Josh Rabon, one of our many dedicated linemen.

My name is Josh Rabon and I am one of the 31 linemen at West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) who work every day in all types of weather conditions to make sure our community has the power to live their lives. My job is hard work but it's very rewarding. I hope this will give you a better look into what we face and more importantly, why we do it.

The Danger:
A lot of people know line work is dangerous because we work near high-voltage electricity. Move just the wrong way or lose focus for a split second, and it could be deadly. You have to be aware of your surroundings and the safety of the person next to you. We work on energized power lines. When you're working with an element of danger that requires concentration, there is no margin for error. I am often working in storms with rain, wind, extreme heat or cold, in the dark, or on the side of the road next to fastmoving traffic.

After an apprenticeship of more than 8,000 hours of training under our belts, we transition to journeyman lineman - that's when we're considered officially trained in our field. But, our education is ongoing. Linemen continuously receive training to stay mindful of safety requirements and up-to-date on the latest equipment and procedures. In fact, we took part in bucket truck rescue training just this week (March 19).

The Physical Demand:
The daily expectations of a lineman are physically demanding, but you won't hear any of us complain about that. I know what I signed up for - loading heavy materials, climbing poles and in and out of buckets, too. A lot of times, we go places the trucks can't, so I might be hiking through the woods loaded down with 40 pounds of personal protective equipment. But that's the job. Most of us are just glad to be outside.

The Sacrifices:
There are some sacrifices to being a lineman. I am often the first on the scene of an emergency, seeing things that are devastating like car accidents, structure fires and damage from severe storms. We get calls at all hours and in the middle of the night. I've missed a lot of hunting trips and family dinners, but my family is very supportive and it pays off in the end. As linemen, we make sure there is nothing standing in the way of helping our friends and neighbors get back to normal life.

Most people don't even consider the kind of work we do as linemen - more times than not, no one knows that we are out working unless they drive by, or God-forbid, we mess up or the power is already out. 

Nevertheless, I truly love what I do because it's ever-changing from job to job. Yes, it is building power lines but the process and design is different for each and every one. The challenges include dealing with terrain that varies from plowed fields, well-kept yards and even swamps, creeks and rivers. It's tough work but when it's done I can look back at the job and think, "Wow, guys, we actually did it." And, that is what gives me a sense of pride and fulfillment knowing what we just accomplished will deliver our members years of reliable service.

It's Worth It:
I have a lot of pride in my work. Even when it is cold and wet, or terribly hot during the summer, I know I'm working to keep people warm or cool. There's a lot of satisfaction in hearing someone yell "thank you" from the window or porch after the lights come back on. No matter how tired I am or how long I have been working, that feeling always makes it worth it.

West Florida Electric Cooperative and its employees are members of this community. We live in the same neighborhoods. We shop at the same stores. Our kids go to the same schools. If your lights are off, there is a good chance ours are off, too. So, you can trust that we are doing our very best to get the lights back on as quickly and safely as possible - so you can get back to normal life.

photo for Powering Life, from a Lineman's Perspective