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My employment after discharge from the United States Coast Guard in 1957 was at the Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Rafael. I was hired in the electric department and within a short period of time commenced training to become a Lineman.
The apprenticeship to Journeyman Lineman takes five years and covers both practical and academic curriculum. During my career valuable experience was gained working with high voltage lines on poles, towers and within substations. Working as a PG&E Lineman was challenging and sometimes a bit dangerous but I wouldn't have traded the job for any other!
The pole I'm working on in the picture (circa 1960) carries a 12,000 volt line and was de-energized!
We did however routinely work on lines that were energized...the common voltages were 4,000, 12,000 and 60,000 volts; it was the practice to work on 4,000 volt lines with special rubber gloves but a hot stick was required on any voltage higher than 4,000 volts. A hot stick is a special fiberglass pole that has end fittings which are designed to do almost everything you can do with your own hands...the stick length varies depending on the voltage it is used on.
It is now standard practice to work on 12,000 volt lines with rubber gloves. Very high voltages are often worked barehanded using non-conductive booms/buckets mounted on trucks; helicopters are becoming more common to work extra high voltages to eliminate shutting downa major line. The Lineman are brought in close to the energized line, install a static line to insure they are in the same potential as the line and then go to work while the helicopter hovers.
Some job classifications held at PG&E were: Line Sub Foreman and Troubleman.
After fifteen years at PG&E I sat for the California Electrical Contractors License exam, took an early retirement and started a business of my own. It was a difficult decision to leave the job security of the company and start something new!
Ross Valley Electric Company was founded in 1974 and did business until 2000 when I retired... my employees numbered from one to five with emphasis on custom houses, remodels,commercial buildings and troubleshooting.