Utility Crews Put Skill on the Line at Rodeo

Thirty-five teams from local public utilities test their skills and speed completing work on power poles today in the seventh annual Lineman's Rodeo at the Department of Water and Power training center.

Three-man crews from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Burbank Power and Light, Glendale Power and Light, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, Azusa Power and Light and Imperial Valley Water District will compete against one another by climbing 40-foot power poles, changing equipment on power poles, rescuing injured people and splicing ropes, among other job-related events.

"It's a chance to bring friends and family out to see what we do, because a lot of people think we're just the guys in the hard hats and yellow trucks," said Graham Peace, co-chairman of the free, daylong public event sponsored by the DWP and the Local 18 Union for Electrical Field Crews in Los Angeles.

"But day in and day out we work with 4,800 volts of electricity with rubber gloves and 34,500 volts with a fiberglass stick," Peace said.

"We're dealing with two things that most people hate--heights and electricity."

A panel of about 40 rotating judges will time and score the events, deducting points for such safety violations as losing one's hard hat, dropping tools or not wearing safety goggles.

Poor teamwork and "hot-dogging" are also considered infractions.

Winners will receive prizes such as donated tool belts and T-shirts, trophies and the opportunity to compete in the National Lineman's Rodeo Competition in Kansas City, Mo., in September joining teams from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.

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