Working Hard - Line Crew Profile

December 12, 2016 Collingwood, ON – Few of us pay attention to our electricity supply or the people who maintain it until we are suddenly without the power to keep us warm, do our laundry, charge phones, cook meals, or do any of the many tasks for which we rely on electricity to get done.
 
Last fall a tornado and several microbursts touched down in the Collingwood, Stayner and Creemore area. The widespread damage cut power to the 13,733 customers of Collus PowerStream.
 
“Our line crew had just finished a full day, but they were ready to get back to work,” said Larry Irwin, VP of Operations at Collus PowerStream. “Anyone working in the line trade loves storms. They rise to the challenge of restoring power to their community.” 
 
Seven powerline technicians and two apprentices formed the crew that headed out to repair the damage to power lines and hydro poles. Some had more than 25 years of experience, others only a few. 
 
“I’ve worked in the electrical distribution industry for 35 years,” said Irwin. “And this is a great crew. Anything you throw at them they are willing and ready to take on.” 
 
It took 24 hours before power was restored to the majority of customers, although most had it returned in 4-5 hours, just in time for the start of the Blue Jays’ playoff game. 
 
“A good response is about being organized and putting a plan in place,” said Ted Burrell, Manager of Hydro Services. “We start working on the largest damage in order to get the most people back on line quickly. From there we move to the smaller loads and bring the rest back up as soon as we can.” 
 
The ability of the crew to work quickly and safely is what makes a good storm response, given the complex work and the high hazards electrical line workers face. Following procedures and adhering to safety standards ensures the safety of both the workers and the citizens of the community. 
 
“Safety is the first thing for our crews,” said Burrell. “They are well trained. They make sure the work gets done properly and that everyone remains safe.” 
 
The strength of the current crew is their ability to work efficiently and a willingness to do what’s required - often despite adverse weather conditions. They take pride in having done their work well. 
 
Part of their cohesiveness comes from having evolved as a group. Two years ago, retirements and people moving away from the community reduced the crew to three powerline technicians. To rebuild the team, Collus PowerStream reinstituted a 20-year-old apprenticeship hiring model. 
 
“We looked at the external factors when considering who to hire,” said Irwin.  “We wanted our new crew members to be with us for the long term, and to stay in the community.”
 
The mix of experienced and new hires have come together as a strong, cohesive unit. Completing countless projects, repairing storm damage, providing mentorship and support h


ave all helped the team become exceptionally tight when ensuring the power stays on in the Collus PowerStream service area. 
 
“When there is an outage, it really charges the team up,” said Burrell. “Knowing that the work they do will get that many people back on line.” 
 
We truly are fortunate to have a team of dedicated and knowledgeable employees at Collus PowerStream who are more than ready to take on whatever Mother Nature hands them.