Electric utility workers from around the state converged on Gainesville for the annual Florida Lineman Competition, March 30-31. The event showcased the technical and physical skills of utility workers in a crowd-pleasing display of skill and teamwork, spotlighting one of the most dangerous jobs in America, where a lapse in judgment or physical slip-up can result in serious injury or death.
The Orlando Utilities Commission journeyman team of James Alexander, Richard Boley and Chris Hosier took top overall honors in the competition, while Lakeland Electric apprentice Samuel Brown took first place overall in the apprentice competition. Journeyman teams from Lakeland Electric and the Kissimmee Utility Authority captured second and third place overall respectively. Apprentices Jimmy Johns, Jr. from Ocala Electric Utility and Doug Bergwall from Lakeland Electric received second and third place respectively in the overall apprentice competition.
A qualified journeyman has more than four years experience within the electric utility trade. Apprentice line workers have four or fewer years of experience. Prior to the competition, lineworkers participated in a series of technical training workshops.
Eighteen teams and 33 apprentices from municipal and cooperative electric utilities and Patrick Air Force Base put their skills to the test for several hundred spectators at the Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) Eastside Operations Center, competing in events ranging from the Hurtman Rescue and Crossarm Change Out to Conductor Relocation and Transformer Change Out, all simulating day-to-day operations for any electric utility.
Designed to highlight safe utility operations, the annual event – presented by Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) and hosted by Gainesville Regional Utilities – gives highly trained linemen teams and apprentices statewide the opportunity to learn more about their trade in specialized workshops, while interacting and sharing ideas with their peers by observing safety skills and techniques used by other linemen during the competition.