Archive for Thursday, March 11, 2004

Two city staff complete program, pass test to become linemen

March 11, 2004

Two Baldwin City staff employees now have an honor few others can claim.

Chris Croucher and Jeff Schmidt recently passed their tests to become Journeyman Linemen, which is considered the top honor in their profession.

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"This certificate is just like a college degree," Delbert Breithaupt, Sr., their colleague, said. "This means the city has qualified people to go out and do anything electrical. We're self sufficient as far as the electrical department is concerned."

Croucher, who has been a city employee for nearly nine years, and Schmidt, who has been with the city four years, spend their days taking care of the city's electrical needs, working overhead and on top of poles with high-voltage power.

Schmidt said the decision to become a lineman was, for him, a necessary part of the profession.

"It's kind of the next step," he said. "The more you learn about it, the less likely you are to make a mistake."

Croucher agreed.

"The more you know about this field, the less likely you are to get hurt and get somebody else hurt," he said.

Both Croucher and Schmidt said becoming a journeyman lineman is a difficult and long process. After attending vo-tech schools for a year, the two entered the four-year lineman program. In the program, which they did in addition to their full-time jobs with the city, they had to take a number of classes and training sessions dealing with different aspects of the profession, including safety, haz-mat and equipment maintenance. Math classes, commercial drivers license and pole-top rescue instruction were also part of the program.

Schmidt and Croucher also completed an internship as part of the training.

The men also said a lot of what they learned came from working with their colleagues.

"You learn something from everybody," Schmidt said.

The final aspect of the program requires applicants to pass a 140-question test. Schmidt posted a perfect score on his test, and Croucher only missed one question to score a 98.

Though they are now linemen, Croucher said there is still room for improvement.

"All of our learning is not over," he said.

Schmidt agreed.

"There are things you learn on the job that just aren't in books," he said.

Breithaupt said the Baldwin community should be proud the two men completed the linemen process.

"This is a field very few people follow," Breithaupt said. "I'm very proud to be associated with these guys."

Schmidt said the feeling is mutual among linemen.

"It's a dangerous job and we could die any day," he said. "So there's a lot of respect between other linemen because they know what we have to go through to do this job and do it safe."

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