story from aabo.ca
Evil Knievel and daredevils of the like have nothing on Nolenn Martin, a 29-year-old apprentice powerline technician and member of the Canadian Union of Skilled Workers currently working for Hydro One. "I like the heights. The higher the better," explains the Six Nations native who is currently in his fourth and final year of apprenticeship
Helps construct and maintain hydro lines
As a powerline technician Nolenn spends much of his time up on wood poles or steel towers constructing and maintaining hydro lines to maintain the flow of electricity from hydro generators to consumers homes. Nolenn emphasizes the need to safely approach all the work he does and ensure safety systems are in place to protect himself and his co-workers.
"It's pretty demanding, you're hanging there and if your foot kicks out you're going down," he says. Nolenn has been lucky enough to avoid falling himself but says unfortunately he has had co-workers suffer fatal falls. "You've got to be on your feet, you're belting and unbelting, belting and unbelting so many times, sometimes 20 times, if you mess up once then you're gonna go down," he says.
Former hull technician in the Navy
As a former hull technician in the Navy, Nolenn is used to exciting and daring situations. Taking a job that sees him up 100 feet in the air suspended by harnesses and held up by spurs on his feet, feels like second nature.
When asked why he likes heights so much he chuckles saying, "I'm Mohawk, come on, " citing the legend that Mohawk members of the Six Nations have always been known as having an affinity for heights. A typical day for Nolenn will often include climbing 150-foot structures two or three times a day depending on the job with about 30 lbs of tools and rigging on his harness.
While working with high voltage electricity comes naturally to him now, he says he never would have considered a job dealing with electricity before entering the trade. "I don't like household electricity, I don't like drilling a thousand little holes to feed a wire down to a panel box but I don't mind dealing with 500,000 volt towers because everything is big and it's easy to follow," he says.
Travelling for the trade
Currently living in London, Nolenn says the hardest part of the trade is the travel. Driving from London to Toronto and Niagara Falls for work every day Nolenn has seen first hand how hard the travel can be on a car. "It's really rough on vehicles. I've got a brand new Cadillac and there are already 116, 000 kilometres on it in less than a year," he laughs adding that he is looking for a "junker" to handle the long drives.
Nolenn's "can do" attitude has won him respect and praise in his trade with promises of promotion in the works. "I've been told that I'm supposed to be going up as a subforeman position," explains Nolenn adding,
"It'll be more paperwork, I'll be laying out the jobs, I'll be in control of the guys underneath me which will be apprentices. When they ask questions I'll have to know the answers." The new role will be challenging but much like other tasks in the trade Nolenn fearlessly says, "If you don't want to do it tell me and I'll go do it."