Electrical workers test high voltage skills in IBEW Lineman's Rodeo

Electrical workers test high voltage skills in IBEW Lineman's Rodeo

BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 200 electrical workers strapped on their belts and put on their hard hats Saturday morning for the first annual IBEW Lineman's Rodeo, what could be more simply called,  'the Electrician's Olympics.'

"This is very dangerous work," said Hawaiian Electric Company senior vice president, Dan Giovanni.

"Household electrical work is 100 volts, 240 volts and that's dangerous, don't get me wrong. in this case we are talking high voltage work. we are talking hundreds of thousands of volts of work."

The event challenges both journeymen and apprentices in skills they've acquired on the field.

Micah Basbas, an apprentice with Maui Electric Company, described one of the challenges.

"We gotta climb up the pole, remove it and bring it on to this side of the arm, install that, refuse it, come back down and use the extendo stick to close it in," Basbas said."It's a good experience for us. the more we get up on the pole, the more we challenge our ownself."

Participants were also tested in situations they don't see every day. For example, one event made participants retrieve an egg at the top of a pole, then rappel down with it in their mouths without breaking it.

"The whole thing is nervewracking and trying not to mess up," said Steven Escamilla, who successfully completed the challenge in less than 30 seconds.

Ultimately, organizers say the rodeo helps give a glimpse into a vital part of the utility industry.

"They are the ones out on those calls in the middle of the night, when the electricity goes out, when there is storms, with all the things that are going on down there," said Brian Ahakuelo, business manager for IBEW Local 1260.

"Sometimes we don't realize how hard their jobs are and they get to showcase what their knowledge and skill level is over here."

This is the first year the event has been held in Hawaii and organizers are hoping to bring it back in 2014.

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