July 9 2021, 10:00 AM
Did you know that July 10 is National Lineworker Appreciation Day? In 2019, utilities and organizations across Canada united in celebration for the first-ever Lineworker Appreciation Day.
Lineworkers are heroes in our books. These dedicated men and women are part of communities in every corner of New Brunswick. They work hard to keep customers connected, often facing challenging conditions and safety hazards. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve continued to provide safe and reliable service for our customers.
To celebrate National Lineworker Appreciation Day, we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Messer, an apprentice lineworker in the St. Stephen area.
Tyler grew up a proud “country boy” in the village of McAdam. As a high school student, he wasn’t sure what type of career he’d like to pursue. That all changed in 2014, when post-tropical storm Arthur battered the Maritimes and caused about 150,000 customers to lose power in New Brunswick – including his community.
“I always knew that I wanted a hands-on job that allowed me to work outside,” Tyler said. “I saw lineworkers in my town cleaning up from the storm and rebuilding powerlines, I thought – wow, I would love to do that.”
Tyler’s final semester of high school included a co-op placement with NB Power at the St. Stephen District Office. He spent one day per week in the field with a crew, getting to see first-hand what the job was all about. It didn’t take long for him to decide that he wanted to be a lineworker, too.
After graduating from McAdam High School, he enrolled in the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) Powerline Technician program. This education involves both classroom and on-the-job training prior to graduation, and a phased block approach leading to a Red Seal designation.
Tyler was hired by NB Power as an apprentice in 2020, around the time the pandemic began. Once it was safe to do so, he did his orientation and started working with the St. Stephen team. For the past year, Tyler has been working alongside senior, experienced lineworkers. Throughout his education and work experience, safety has always been the main focus.
“The work itself is complex and very physical,” said Tyler. “It requires teamwork, problem-solving and thinking outside the box. But safety is by far the most important factor. Nothing matters than keeping everyone safe – our customers, co-workers and myself.”
Tyler says the variety of what the job entails makes every day an adventure. Helping with large-scale outages and storm response is especially rewarding.
“This is not a 9-5 job. You need to able to put your life on pause to help others,” he said. “Driving on back roads at 2 AM in winter conditions, looking out for moose and bears is a whole other experience. We never know what we’re going to be up against, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. The pride you feel when you get a customer’s power back on, it’s a rush!”
Tyler is currently working to obtain enough hours for his third block, which will involve more classroom training and testing, followed by his application for a Red Seal Certificate. He attributes the success of his first year at NB Power to his mentors and colleagues.
“The folks I get to work with are out of this world,” said Tyler. “They have been so welcoming and helpful and are always willing to answer my questions and coach me. They’re instilling in me the habits and values to have a long and safe career. Being such a close-knit group, they’re also very supportive beyond work matters, with advice on things like buying my first house. It’s a good feeling knowing they’ve got my back and are rooting for me to succeed.”
The kindness and appreciation customers show Tyler and his team inspire him to be the best he can be.
“I love chatting with people when we’re working around their home or business. Understanding the impact our work can have on their lives is what keeps me going. The icing on the cake is seeing my little niece jump up and down with pride to see ‘Uncle Tyler’ in the big truck,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than driving through my hometown, knowing I’m there to help my friends and neighbours.”