By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)August 22, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The Facilities Electrical Branch's High Voltage Team is the group to thank every time you turn on the lights, your air conditioning kicks on or a pneumatic tool operates.
They help to power the Directorate of Public Works' promise to "keep the depot running."
The four team members often work alone, but support each other whenever possible.
"It's been said we have three or four crews of one," said Robert Howell, a depot electrician and the High Voltage leader. "But, we try to stay together and work together."
The organization is responsible for:
• Building power lines
• Overseeing contracts to provide power
• Reading meters - approximately 85 percent of all buildings on the installation are metered in some way.
• All street lights on depot
• Marking underground utilities
Howell learned to be an electrician and lineman in the Navy. His teammates all have civilian backgrounds - having worked for power companies or contractors.
"Being a lineman is a school of hard knocks," he said, explaining that most knowledge is gained on the job.
Each of them must be certified through a substation maintenance school to perform one of the most hazardous parts of the job.
"If something goes wrong while working on a substation, if you make one misstep, you're looking at an explosion," said Howell.
The depot is home to three substations, all of which are maintained by this small crew.
Howell asks the depot workforce to be courteous of the team.
Most of the time, they work high off the ground and can't see if someone is about to create a hazard by walking or driving below them.
"If you see someone parked on the side of the road, pay attention," said Howell. "Watch out and look up, especially if you are walking near a bucket truck. It may be a dangerous area."