Hotline School improves industry standards
For more than 45 years, the Mesa Hotline School has been teaching linemen and other electrical workers the fine art of hot sticking, pole climbing, and cable tracing.
Hundreds of electrical employees from across the nation will attend the school this week at the training center, 3210 E Road.
“It’s a good overall basis in what the industry uses,” said Pat Roark, a technical instructor for the electric line worker program at the Western Colorado Community College — Colorado Mesa University.
The first Western Slope Hotstick School, as it was known in 1966, was sponsored by Mesa State College. The school acquired a lease from the Bureau of Land Management to construct a distribution and 138kV transmission structure for use in hands-on education of lineman.
In, 1979, the training field was later moved to the “College Farm” on E Road where a substation and underground field was added. A steel transmission tower was added in 1982.
Today, students attend classes, taught by more than 80 instructors, at the Grand Junction DoubleTree Hotel and perform hands-on electrical work on the many upright poles standing at the end of the Riverside Parkway and E Road.
It is the only program of its kind in the U.S., said Roark.
Widely known companies such as Xcel Energy send their employees to the school annually to stay ahead of the changing industry and safety standards.
“We’ll have about 199 students this week and 160 next week. They come from 17 states plus two foreign countries,” Roark said.
Despite the popularity of underground cables, many lineman still climb poles the traditional way with hooks and harnesses, he said.
“In the more rural or mountainous areas, climbing is still needed,” he said, “If you can’t get a truck in there you gotta do it the old-fashioned way of hooking it.”
The facility is used year-round to teach a 9-month pre-apprenticeship through WCCC. The basic course prepares students for entrance into a four-apprenticeship where students work toward a journeyman license.