Most kids don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. Aaron Roethle wasn’t like most kids. He knew from a very young age that he wanted to be a journeyman lineman and work for an electric company.
“When I was a kid, I saw a lineman high in a bucket truck working near our house. I thought that would be a cool job,” Roethle said. Then in high school, Roethle was the only student in the wood and metalworking class to volunteer to hang from a harness high atop the football stadium to rebuild the “crow’s nest.” His teacher suggested he should become a lineman.
So after graduation, Roethle entered an apprenticeship program with a small utility cooperative. There he earned his electrical journeyman’s license and worked before joining TEP seven years ago as a Transmission Journeyman Lineman. “I’ve been a lineman for 17 years. This is all I’ve known for all of my adult life,” he said.
The work Roethle and his coworkers do will be recognized July 10 on National Lineworker Appreciation Day, sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Edison Electric Institute. The day recognizes journeyman lineworkers as essential workers in maintaining a critical infrastructure, putting themselves in harm’s way and making personal sacrifices to ensure reliable access to electricity for all.
Roethle’s job is particularly hazardous as he and his crew work on very high voltage lines. While it’s dangerous, strenuous and dirty work, he finds the work fulfilling. “I do enjoy the hard work,” he said. “At the end of the day, I have a sense of accomplishment and pride. We’re up there changing out insulators and spacers, and we can energize at this high voltage and still be safe while keeping everyone in power.”
Safety always has to be at the forefront, he said. “When the hard part of the job is over, that’s when accidents can happen. You can’t let your guard down even with the smallest things that seem easy and you’ve done a thousand times,” he said. “Without a doubt safely is the most important aspect of our job. It’s always top of mind for me.”
Roethle said lineman are a unique breed who share a close bond, wherever they work throughout the country. “This job definitely attracts a certain type of individual. We are a proud group and it’s hard to acknowledge when we need to step back because we’re exhausted and could lose focus. But it’s important that we do. At the end of the day, we all want to go home safe to our families.”
He said he’s grateful our company is committed to safety, ensures that employees have the safety gear they need and provides a fatigue management plan to guide workers. “I came from a company that said they were safety-focused, but I see it lived out here every day. If we see something unsafe, our leadership will do whatever needs to be done to address it.”
Tom Kaminski, Aaron’s T&D Supervisor, lauded Aaron’s excellent commitment to safety. “He plays an integral role in training and developing our apprentices and younger Journeyman Lineman, ensuring they are performing at the highest level of safety.”