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A new generation of linemen

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:22 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The nationwide power outages stemming from last week’s winter storms in Texas have illuminated the importance of training electrical line workers.

For the last 50 years Bismarck State College has trained linemen in everything from digging and setting poles to splicing wires to rescuing injured workers. Students mostly come from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana. One student, Devyn Bond, drives an hour and 45 minutes every day to train with the Bismarck State College linemen.

“Something that you’re doing on the ground has an excitement factor multiplied by 10 when you’re doing it at 30, 40, maybe even 50 feet up in the air,” Bond said. “Everything as far as working from heights, working around the high power, just going where the work is, it just excited me.”

Like Bond, linemen must be comfortable around heights, electricity, and traffic. To restore power during emergencies, linemen must also work in all conditions.

“And then all of a sudden you throw temperatures in, you throw the wind in that we got today, and it makes it even more dangerous. There’s a lot of people that don’t want to deal with it. It definitely takes a certain type of person to do it, but these 50 students, they’ve been here since the summer, they love what they’re doing, they’re showing up every day,” Lead Lineworker Instructor Brad Anderson said.

And showing up every day is what this job requires. When the power was lost in North Dakota last week due to electrical grid issues in Texas, linemen were called to help.

“They’re kind of saying that you’re like Superman, you know, you go out there and people are relying on you,” Bond said.

The lineworker program at Bismarck State College is the only one of its kind in North Dakota. Students are trained for nine months and upon graduation are ready to work anywhere as a lineman.

The lineman program at Bismarck State College is getting an upgrade this summer with the construction of a new training facility.

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