Line Workers and Pilots Partner in Mid-Air to Service LADWP Transmission Lines

By Paola Adler

LADWP line workers have traditionally served as the stewards of the Department’s overhead transmission lines, some of which span hundreds of miles. Thanks to a new program, five foremen and 27 line patrol mechanics will start working with a new partner – five pilots from LADWP’s Fleet Services Division. The LADWP Overhead Transmission Human External Cargo (HEC) Program officially certified all 37 participants on January 24, 2019 after three months of training procedures.

Helicopters and pilots assisting with overhead power transmission work is not new to the Department, as they are currently used for visual inspections, patrols and to transport tools to job sites and towers (known as short haul). With the new program, however, helicopters will be able to carry line workers from the ground onto a transmission structure or wire using an external line descending below the aircraft. Incorporating this practice helps line workers access hard to reach areas and creates a safer work environment by reducing climbing, increasing productivity.

Line workers use head and hand signals to communicate with pilots. (Photo by Chris Corsmeier)

“There are so many benefits for our transmission workers,” said Metro Patrol Area Foreman Jim Schultz, a program participant. “It greatly reduces the time needed to position our crews, which generally reduces risk. Fatigue is minimized by eliminating the need to climb towers with mandated climbing restrictions, and we also gain access to tower locations that have been inaccessible due to weather and environmental issues.”

This practice is common at many other utilities. LADWP’s combination of in-house staff and resources, experience with helicopter transmission work and relationships with other utilities allowed the Department to create a program efficiently and cost-effectively in just three years. In addition to the Overhead Transmission and Fleet Services Aviation teams, the program was developed in partnership with Power System Safety, IBEW Local 18 and the Joint Training and Joint Safety Institutes.

Participants completed their certification with help from external trainers from Air Rescue Systems. From November 2018 through January 2019, employees from different job classifications learned to collaborate together through classroom sessions and practical exercises on transmission towers at the Truesdale Training Center. Training included helicopter safety, short haul procedures and work practices, and “up and out” tower rescue operations.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to train alongside our line workers to build teamwork, trust and morale. The training helped us create synergy on the job and improve safety while relying on each other to conduct precision work without errors,” said Jeff Goldman, a participating LADWP helicopter pilot. “The Department is constantly evolving; it is very fulfilling to contribute to that evolution.”

The 37 employees participating in the new program included 4 pilots, 1 chief pilot, 5 foremen and 27 line patrol mechanics. (Photo by Skip Robinson)

2017 Retiree Picnic: A Day of Fun and Fond Memories

By Kim Hughes
Photos by Art Mochizuki

As more than 640 attendees walked up to the registration table, a smiling Shirley Brown, president of the Employees Association, extended a hand and a warm welcome. It was the first Saturday in June, and this was the 2017 iteration of the annual LADWP Retiree Picnic at Whittier Downs Recreation Area.

Each year, retirees look forward to getting together to share fond memories and hug old friends. They come from around the corner and from thousands of miles away.  Gathered in one place were hundreds of years of knowledge, experience and LADWP history. What a special treat to be in the presence of such a group!

Maurice Doucette

Among the attendees was Maurice Doucette who had traveled the farthest—from New Orleans—to join the celebration.

Able Guarbiola

Able Guarbiola was honored as the retiree with the most years of service. Guarbiola spent 48 years working in LADWP’s Power System. He attended the picnic with his wife Dora, a retired employee of Kaiser Permanente.

“I really can’t say enough about LADWP — the Department has been so good to me” – Able Guarbiola

Guarbiola said that he didn’t really want to retire in 2016, as he enjoyed every day of working as an assistant programmer. He came to LADWP when Sam Yorty was Mayor, and after serving in the U.S. Army and Navy. As Guarbiolo and Dora went off to enjoy the delicious luncheon of hot dogs, tri-tip, chicken, rolls, popcorn, soft drinks and ice cream, a familiar face approached. Former Chief Chemist Tim Hemmings was celebrating the day.

Tim Hemmings

Though retired, Hemmings is still well known around LADWP, as he serves on the Retirement Board and has been an active member of LADWP’s Regional Science Bowl since its inception, where he acts as chief science judge. Hemmings shared that he retired in 1999 and that this was his 18th Retiree Picnic.

At the photo booth, a line snaked from the shady tent, and friends and family were lined up to capture a memory. As attendees took their poses, their photos were snapped and printed out as keepsakes.

Gene Conzano

Gene Conzano, who retired in 2015, says that he misses his work friends. As LADWP’s dedicated photographer Art Mochizuki snapped photos of Gene, he commented how much he appreciated Art taking photos at his retirement event. Having those mementos means the world to Gene.

Bobbie Ayears and Genevieve Kemp

It is often said that LADWP is a “family affair,” and that was evident by the many related employees that were part of the Retiree Picnic celebration. A perfect example of that are Bobbie Ayears and Genevieve Kemp. Together, the aunt and her niece represented 45 years of service to LADWP.

Icle David

Another special attendee was Icle David. At 97-years-young, David was the oldest retiree at the picnic. She joined LADWP in 1957, and shared that she had seen many changes during her time at the Department and beyond. She says that she has always been grateful for her job and the friends she made.

As the picnic was winding down and the final raffle prizes awarded, a shriek of glee could be heard as Anthony Reyes realized he was the winner of the Water and Power Credit Union’s prize of a family four-pack of movie tickets. The day had produced a number of lucky raffle prize winners.

Soon, goodbye hugs were given all around, and people gathered their belongings for their trips home. It was bittersweet to many to say goodbye, but there is always next year’s picnic.

2018 Retiree Picnic: Familiar Faces Reconnect

By Paola Adler

Reuniting for an annual tradition, LADWP retirees and their families attended the 65th Annual LADWP Retired Employee Picnic on June 2, 2018. About 540 people gathered at Legg Lake in Whittier Narrows Park to catch up with former colleagues, enjoy good food and play bingo and horseshoe. The event also included booths with information about health plans and the Water and Power Community Credit Union. A special feature this year was a display of classic and vintage automobiles.

Intake asked picnic attendees why they enjoy coming to the event each year, what they’ve been up to since retiring and whether they had any words of wisdom or advice on how to enjoy retirement.

Here’s what some of them had to say.

  • Name: Joyce Hunter
  • Year retired: 2018
  • Division/Team: Supply Chain Services
  • What she likes most about the picnic: “I like catching up with co-workers and talking about our families.”

  • Name: Angelito Reyes
  • Year retired: 2007
  • Division/Team: New Business Engineering
  • How to make the most of retirement: “Enjoy your time, get busy and entertain yourself.”

  • Asghar Mohajer
  • Year retired: 2014
  • Division/Team: Power Engineering
  • What he likes most about the picnic: “Seeing the people I worked with. I used to see them day in and day out, and they have become a part of my family.”

  • Name: Eddie Novasel (left) and wife Marge
  • Year retired: 1981
  • Division/Team: Worker’s Compensation
  • Activities since retirement: “Golfing and traveling all over the world.”

  • Name: Becky Chacon (left)
  • Year retired: 1998
  • Division/Team: Power System
  • Activities since retirement: “I worked for Whittier High School and then I traveled. My favorite places were Costa Rica, Panama, Cancun and Guatemala!”

  • Name: Bertha Paud (right)
  • Year retired: 1993
  • Division/Team: Management Information Services
  • What she likes most about the picnic: “Seeing friends like Becky – we worked on the same floor. LADWP was such a wonderful place to work. The food is good too!”

  • Name: Leon Murillo (center) and family
  • Year retired: 1998
  • Division/Team: Supply Chain Services
  • How to make the most of retirement: “Live one day at a time and enjoy yourself.”

  • Name: Janet Booth
  • Year retired: 1998
  • Division/Team: Power Operating and Maintenance
  • Activities since retirement: “Taking trips to Vegas and San Francisco. I also love going to Dodgers games and concerts!”

  • Name: Marilyn Washington
  • Year retired: 2013
  • Division/Team: Purchasing
  • What she likes most about the picnic: “Seeing all my friends that I worked with years ago.”

All photos by Art Mochizuki.