Printer Friendly

POLE POSITION LINEMAN RACE LETS WORKERS COMPETE FOR PRIDE, PRACTICE.

Byline: Grace Lee Staff Writer

SUN VALLEY - 29-year-old Carlos Vitalba, sporting a hard hat and clinking tool belt, would have looked like a typical electric lineman climbing down a power pole but for the egg he balanced between his teeth.

Vitalba was among scores of electric lineman teams competing on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's training field on a sunny Saturday morning at the DWP's Lineman's Rodeo and Family Festival.

They were competing in the 12th annual competition, which included rescuing a dummy hanging from a pole as well as speeding down a pole with a raw egg.

Finished with the minute-long task, he gently pulls the egg from his mouth and laughs. Teeth marks have cracked the shell.

``I didn't break it last year,'' Vitalba said. ``I think I was thinking about it too much all the way up there.''

The competition gives journeymen and apprentice electric mechanics a chance to test their speed and skill among public and private power companies throughout Southern California and other Western states.

In one contest, linemen climbed a 45-foot power pole to rescue a dummy hanging from a belt.

A lineman hung nimbly from the top, pulled out a belt and eased the dummy to the ground. The best time that morning was just over a minute and half.

DWP superintendent Daryl Buckley said that while all training is valuable, the rescue contest was the most valuable.

``Any time there is an accident, the adrenaline is pumping. This is similar because it gives them the same sense of urgency,'' he said. ``This is a valuable tool and plays an important role as far as safety.''

Jess Zitlau, 22, of Santa Clara agreed.

With a time of almost two minutes, he said he could have done better.

``It's kind of nerve-racking with everyone watching. There's a little extra strain with the whole world watching,'' he said.

Still, the rescued dummy didn't hit the pole on its way down, which would have meant an electric shock in a real emergency.

The event is as much an opportunity to have fun as train, said Gary Updegraff, of Colton.

``This is just to have a good time and show off. See people I haven't seen in 20 years and learn different tricks from all over the world,'' he said.

For Ruben Briones, the training is a priority.

The hardest part about being a lineman, he said, was learning not to be afraid of falling.

``I'm still working on it,'' he said.

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1) DWP lineman Randy Pierson races down a pole with an egg in his mouth during the Lineman's Rodeo and Family Festival.

(2 -- 3) City of Burbank lineman Glenn Harrison, above, rescues a dummy hanging from a pole during Saturday's contest. At left, linemen from competing power companies wait to participate.

Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer
COPYRIGHT 2003 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 18, 2003
Words:478
Previous Article:CHEMICAL LEVELS BIG SURPRISE PERCHLORATE FIND AT BERMITE SITE ASTOUNDS CITY OFFICIALS.
Next Article:CRITICS: PANEL BAD FOR COUNCILS CITY CRITICIZED FOR 'SABOTAGING' EFFORTS.


Related Articles
HERTA'S TEAM DISBANDS HART GRAD CONFIDENT HE WILL DRIVE IN 2002 CART SEASON.
ANNUAL RODEO HAS LINEMEN PUT THEIR BEST FOOT UPWARD.
ELECTRICITY IN AIR FOR UTILITY CREWS AT ANNUAL RODEO.
YAMAHA 400 INSIDE LOOK: HEARN NOT IN CLUTCH PART FAILS DRIVER, WHO QUALIFIES 19TH.
Lasoski comes back at Cottage Grove.
DWP WORKERS GET HEFTY RAISE UTILITY ASSURES CITY RATES WON'T GO UP AS WELL.
ROOKIE GIVING FRENCH GOOD NAME.
MOTOR SPORTS ROUNDUP: HORNADAY WON'T LET SURGERY STOP HIM.
UO stays right in stride.
GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH: BOURDAIS GETS THE POLE.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters