Utility poles don’t last forever. After a butt test on a pole in Ukiah turned up signs of rot, a four-man IBEW crew from Wilson Construction was called in to change it out.
Pole replacement jobs are par for the course in outside construction, but no job is without its challenges. Journeyman Lineman Foreman Brandon Breeden, a seven-year member of IBEW 1245, explained what made this primary riser pole change-out unique.
“The only unusual [element] in this job is that we have to set the new pole in the same hole, we can’t dig next to it and transfer it. And we’ll have to hand dig, because we can’t stick the auger in if there are any utilities within three feet of the pole,” Breeden explained. “There are a lot of underground utilities on this pole, and we’ve got to re-splice the underground, but we’ve got a clearance, which makes this job a little bit easier.”
As always, the IBEW crew made sure that safety was a top priority. Before beginning the change-out, Breeden and his crew deenergized the primary riser, and then grounded at the padmount transformer to protect themselves from backfeed. They also had to take great care not to disturb a fire hydrant main situated in very close proximity to the pole hole.
Breeden clearly takes pride in his work, as well as his union, and is pleased that the union has been able to keep him working close to his home in Rohnert Park.
“[IBEW 1245] is a good local. Everyone’s friendly there, very easy to deal with, and they actually care about their members,” he said. “They’ve had a lot of work for the local guys, so I haven’t had to travel for the last three years. Everything’s been good.”
Photos by John Storey