Florida Power apprentice lineman wins top honor in International Lineman’s Rodeo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Sept. 18, 2002 — For professional football players, the Super Bowl is played on the last Sunday of each January.

For Florida Power’s Tom Littles, an apprentice lineman from Inverness, Fla., his Super Bowl came Saturday, Sept. 14 at the International Lineman’s Rodeo near Kansas City.

Littles, who has been with Florida Power two years, beat out 278 other competitors in winning the top award in his class. He won the apprentice award with a first-place performance in the written test and a second-place finish in the hurt-man rescue competition (with a time of 57 seconds). He finished first in the investor-owned utility competition and first overall (including investor-owned, municipal, co-op, contract and other lineman categories).

In all, 12 transmission and distribution linemen from Florida Power came home Sunday with wet clothes and Kansas mud on their boots after doing what they do best Saturday — demonstrating their skills safely and quickly in inclement weather. They were among nearly 1,300 competitors from across the United States, as well as Canada, Ireland, Great Britain and Jamaica. They competed in two categories — journeyman teams of three linemen (339 teams in all), and apprentices, or new linemen (279 linemen), who competed individually — and in five events. Apprentices also took a written test as part of the competition.

The Florida Power linemen had earned the right to compete in the international rodeo during company competitions last spring at the company’s Clermont Operations Center near Orlando.

Competitors from Florida Power included Henry Borger, Ruben Lopez and Mickey Isler of the Jamestown team; Brett Summers, Chris Ledford and Ryon Roberts of the Apopka/Deland team; Denver Blackburn, Mark Brady and Jaymie Boyette of the Transmission/Zephyrhills team; and apprentices Littles (Inverness), Donas Hanken (Apopka) and Aaron Quick (Transmission).

Florida Power linemen to be featured on The Learning Channel

The Learning Channel was scheduled to take a look at the work of a Florida Power transmission crew “working it hot” Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 10 p.m. EST.

Ice-T, internationally-known Rap artist and star of NBC’s Law and Order: SVU, hosts the new TLC show Beyond Tough, which includes a 15-minute segment featuring a Florida Power line crew working on an energized 69kV line.

“Beyond Tough is all about putting our viewers up close to the exciting and sometimes dangerous work that people do all over this country,” said Ice-T to the Florida Power linemen who offered to demonstrate their techniques. When asked to join the linemen for a bucket ride up to the high-voltage line, Ice said, “You all are the tough guys, not me.”

Ice-T watched from ground as the crew did “hotline work,” using their hands to manipulate the energized high-voltage power lines as they performed routine maintenance on cross arms. The highly-technical work involves a special bucket and clips that makes the workers part of the 69,000-volt energized circuit.

“You get a tingling feeling when you clip into the line,” says George Baxter, supervisor of transmission line construction. Baxter hosted the production crew in a second bucket truck, giving the camera a close-up view of the highly-technical work.

He also carefully demonstrated the safety measures our linemen take before and during their project. “We gave Ice a hard hat with his name on it, and he wore it. But he wouldn’t come up with us!”

No lineman has ever been seriously injured at Florida Power while performing this “bare hands” technique.

Florida Power, a subsidiary of Progress Energy, provides electricity and related services to more than 1.4 million customers in Florida.

The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Fla., and serves a territory encompassing over 20,000 square miles including the cities of St. Petersburg, Clearwater, as well as the Central Florida area surrounding Orlando. For more information about Florida Power, visit the company’s Web site at: http://www.fpc.com.

Source: Florida Power

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