Who’s your favorite superhero? Batman? Spider-Man? Wonder Woman? What about the local lineworkers that get your power back on when you need it?
Lineworkers, sometimes referred to as unsung heroes, are the first responders when a power outage occurs. It doesn’t matter the day or time, it’s their duty to serve the public.
“We all want to do a great job and please our customers,” said Tom Swayne, DTE lineworker. “It’s such a rewarding feeling when you get to interact with a happy customer after getting their lights back on.”
However, their work is rarely easy, and without taking proper safety precautions, it can often be dangerous. Lineworkers work long shifts in conditions that can range from freezing cold temperatures and ice storms to 100-degree heat and humidity, all while wearing personal protective equipment and carrying more than 50 pounds of equipment around their waist.
“You quickly learn how dangerous the job can actually be,” said Justin Summers, DTE lineworker apprentice. “You always hear about the potential dangers, but until you see something go wrong, or see what voltage can do, it gets pretty intense.”
Not to mention the time they must spend away from family in order to get their jobs done.
“It can be a struggle because I’m away from my family so much,” said Deven Heimke, DTE lineworker. “My kids think I’m a hero and my wife is very supportive, but missing birthdays, holidays, and a lot of family parties is tough, but that’s part of the job.”
Still, it’s the reactions from customers and their thankful actions that make the work worth it.
“While helping In Puerto Rico (with DTE), we had a village of 30 or so kids who’d follow us around and once we got their power back on they celebrated in the streets,” Heimke said. “We often take it for granted but they had been out of power for several months. It’s humbling to give people that little bit of hope after a devastating storm.”
Moments like these are common for line workers. To most it’s all part of the job, but no matter how many times they receive a friendly thank you, the feeling still resonates.
“Last year I responded to an outage around midnight on the 4th of July and a resident came out shocked I was already there working – on a holiday – to get the power back on,” Heimke said. “I appreciated him coming out, but that’s just what we do.”
National Lineworker Appreciation Day is celebrated on April 18 and July 10. Share your line worker appreciation story on social media using #ThankALineworker