By Jamie Lasorsa, Reporter
Jack Austin has been a part of the Princeton Municipal Light Department’s field crew for almost three years. At 21 years old, he is currently the youngest member of the four-man crew that keeps the town of Princeton supplied with power during the best and worst of conditions.
Austin got his start with the PMLD when a previous manager, a family friend, offered him a position when they were seeking out younger members to join the trade. Austin has been a full-time member of the department since and feels very supported and encouraged by his coworkers. He finds his job very fulfilling and rewarding.
Each day is unique, as far as what situations may arise for Austin and his colleagues. Outages due to windstorms, snowstorms, accidents, or blown transformers are all issues which the crew could be called to take care of, or it could just be a day of regular maintenance.
Whatever the situation, when working with high voltage power lines, it’s important to be well educated in your craft. Austin is currently in his second year of a four-year Apprentice Lineworker Program offered through the Northeast Public Power Association (NEPPA) in Littleton. The school offers safety and technical training for lineman throughout New England. Once he completes this four-year program, he will be a certified Journeyman Lineman.
Austin has made education and safety a top priority. His performance at this year’s NEPPA Apprentice Lineworker Skills Assessment Rodeo is a testament to his skill and dedication.
The Rodeo, held each year as part of the apprentice program, is a mandatory two-day event which consists of multiple skill specific tasks designed to test the education, technical, and safety skills of the Apprentice Lineman. This year the Rodeo was held on June 9 and 10 with roughly 124 linemen in attendance. Events such as the Transformer Change Out, Speed Climb, 4kV Pole Transfer, and Bucket Rescue were just a few of the challenges the participants faced. One of the more well-known and popular events is the Hurt Man Rescue. This task, a simulation of a hurt lineman (portrayed in the event by a dummy mannequin) stranded at the top of a 40-foot utility pole, requires the lineman to climb to the top of the pole dressed in full gear, rescue their fellow lineman, and get back down the pole in under five minutes. This event is a yearly requirement of all linemen, not just apprentices.
“I really enjoy it, it’s a lot of fun,” Austin said, speaking of his role at PMLD. His enthusiasm for his profession is clearly seen by the fact he walked away at the end of the NEPPA Rodeo with a first place overall win, scoring the most accumulated points from all the events. The placement offered not only personal and professional satisfaction, but also a generous Milwaukee tool package and gift cards.
Austin sees a bright future for himself with the PMLD and the increasing need for young, dedicated workers, offers him the opportunity to create a long and prosperous career in a profession he not only has a talent for, but one he truly enjoys.
Jack Austin recently won first place at the NEPPA Apprentice Lineworker Skills Assessment Rodeo.
COURTESY: Jack Austin