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FMEA Lineman Rodeo Highlights Strength and Skills of Competitors

FMEA Lineman Rodeo Highlights Strength and Skills of Competitors

More than 500 people attended the extremely successful 2015 FMEA Lineman Competition and awards fmea2.jpgbanquet in April. The City of Tallahassee was an excellent host for this year’s exciting event. Altra Medical was a proud competition sponsor for the sixth year.

Nineteen teams from ten utilities across Florida participated in this year’s journeyman events, including five senior journeyman teams from four utilities competing for the first time, and 55 apprentices from 12 utilities joining as well. 


Congratulations to the Winners:

Apprentice of the Year: Keith Kirkpatrick

Journeymen of the Year: Garrett Padgham, Blake Burns and Lamar Allen

Senior Journeymen of the Year: Terry Cobb, Nick Ellis and Jason Smith

(from City of Tallahassee)

Check out the full list of winners at the FMEA’s website.




There’s a lot more to turning the lights on than flipping a switch from the comfort of home. Behind that power, there’s a lineman climbing, moving and lifting – great feats of strength – all from atop a 45-foot pole. At the FMEA Lineman Competition in Tallahassee, these everyday heroes got a chance to strut their stuff.

They climb poles, change out transformers, fix a wire down, relocate a cross arm, compete over an obstacle course and do a lot of other events that a lay person doesn’t even begin to understand – all the while, racing to get the fastest time and performing safely to avoid a point deduction.

Young apprentices compete in six categories for individual category awards and combined lowest scores determine an overall apprentice winner. Prior to the competition, these lean, good-looking guys practice for weeks. All that practice carries over to their regular jobs, which they’re now doing even better and more safely. A lineman is an apprentice for four years before they learn sufficient skills and pass a test to become a Journeyman. 

This year, 19 teams of three journeymen competed in five events for the coveted overall title, bragging rights for a year, and a $3,000 check that starts to pay for them to compete at a national level. The journeymen events are very complicated and require teamwork to complete quickly and safely. Plus, the stakes are high; drop a bolt and it’s a deduction. Not grounding or isolating properly in competition is a one-point deduction, but in real life could be the difference between life and death.

The competitors display a hurt man rescue in the competition. If something were to happen to a lineman while in a bucket truck or on the line, the team has to get him down quickly and safely.


Watch this video of how they rescue someone who is unresponsive up on a power pole.


In these cases, the rescuers need to tie off the hurt man’s legs to pull him away from the pole, then secure him to a carribeaner tied to a pulley, so the team below can lower him to the ground. 

fmea3.jpgLastly, the lineman needs to cut his leather belt free from the pole and release him to come down without hitting the ground hard… all while the clock is ticking. In as little as three to four minutes without breathing, brain damage occurs.

Once on the ground, they would perform CPR and use a defibrillator if needed.  Many utility companies carry AEDs on their bucket trucks and supervisors’ trucks in the event of electrocution or cardiac arrest in order to keep the linemen safe.  Altra Medical is a proud provider of many of these AEDs.


Learn more about the best AEDs for utility workers.




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