FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Tuesday, April 18 is National Lineman Appreciation Day — a day to recognize the work of the men and women who keep our power on.
It was an extra special day at Indiana Michigan Power’s Baer Field training center because it was the final class of a four-year course for a group of B Mechanics looking to advance to A Mechanics and reach journeymen status.
One of the people in that class was Jason Putman. While working as a B Mechanic, he was called upon over the summer after the derecho that hit Fort Wayne knocked out power for tens of thousands, and then again when a major storm hit the first week of July.
“It’s tough, and it’s hard on your family as well because we have to take time away from our family to help other families in need to get their lights on, but I think I can speak for most linemen or apprentices, it’s satisfying to turn the lights on,” Putman said.
Linemen have to go through long days of training and learning before they then go out and work extremely long hours in, usually, inclement weather to bring the power back on for residents when it goes out.
He said it’s difficult, but the linemen usually hear words of appreciation from residents when they are out working.
“Everybody, especially nowadays like I said with technology, everybody needs power,” Putman added. “So, we’re fully aware and we do it as fast and safe as we can, but we also can’t do things too fast and cut corners otherwise, you know, we’re going to pay the consequences.”
The instructor of Putman’s course is Line Trainer Specialist, Joe Sherer.
Sherer told WANE 15 there’s a ton that goes into reaching journeymen status, and that he’s extremely proud of the men and women who reached their final class on Tuesday.
“I mean, our electric power is taken for granted, and everything that is out there – it’s mainly wood poles and wires, and it goes all the way down to the level of your phone charger, which makes this thing go. That, in itself, is a feat that these young men and women have really accomplished, and I’m proud of them. I’m proud to see them make it through these past four years and then to become a full-fledged lineman,” Sherer said.
He believes that if people really saw what went into being prepared to do the job, and then actually being in those situations where linemen have to deal with downed power lines and poles, people would have an even greater appreciation for what they do.
If they knew the feat that, sometimes, we have to accomplish to keep the lights on, yes I think they would be very appreciative of them, and most of our customers are,” Sherer explained. Most of them are, and they realize what it takes to keep the lights on because we work in all kinds of weather – the heat, the cold, the day, the night, long hours, and long times away from our families – but it’s all for a good cause and it benefits our customers and that’s what we’re here for.
He said their final class falling on National Lineman Appreciation Day happened to be a coincidence, but they are certainly taking advantage of it.