In December 2014, the board of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association adopted a resolution recognizing the second Monday of April as National Lineman Appreciation Day. This event was first observed the next year on April 10.
In the years since, there has been some confusion about which day to observe the annual event. Some utilities choose to follow the pattern set the first year and celebrate on April 10. Others stick with the intention of the original resolution and celebrate on the second Monday of April.
Regardless of when we observe National Lineman Appreciation Day, there should be no confusion about this: Holston Electric Cooperative’s lineworkers are dedicated servants who deserve more honor than they receive.
Holston Electric Cooperative maintains 2,433 miles of energized distribution line, and we keep the lights on 99.94 percent of the time. For 2018, the average outage on our system lasted only 146 minutes. While that may seem like an eternity when you are missing your favorite TV show, it is remarkably efficient when you consider that a lineman had to stop what he was doing, gather the correct equipment and materials, drive to who-knows-where and make a repair — likely in weather conditions that were not ideal.
Every day, our lineworkers put their lives on the line. For us, this means two things.
This career involves a certain amount of risk. In 2018, electrical lineworker was ranked as the 13th most dangerous job in the country — just behind law enforcement officers. Our lineworkers are extensively trained, and they watch one another’s backs, but heights, high voltage, distracted drivers and other risks are always present. Each day, our lineworkers put their lives on the line.
It also means that their lives are frequently interrupted by the demands of the job. The phone might ring at any time. They are asked to leave birthday parties and ballgames. They get up in the middle of the night, put on their boots and leave their families. Their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, are impacted by what happens out on our distribution lines. It is more than a job — again, they very much put their lives on the line.
I’ve seen our lineworkers return to the office after a big storm. Their coats are soaked, their hands are dirty and their faces wear both the pride of a job well done and the exhaustion of a night with no sleep. These good people are the first-responders of the utility industry, and I personally appreciate all they do for our co-op and our community.
Please join us in celebrating the hard work and sacrifice of our lineworkers on National Lineman Appreciation Day. You can also recognize lineworkers you know on social media with the hashtag #thankalineman.
We plan to celebrate on April 8, but the date doesn’t really matter.
Whether it is April 8 or some other day, the next time you see one of our lineworkers out around town, I hope you will take a moment to give him a pat on the back, buy him a cup of coffee or just say, “Thanks for putting your life on the line.”