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My journey to becoming an electrician

by | Mar 8, 2017 | ELECTRICIAN | 0 comments

At the time that I choose to be an electrician, I was a junior attending Santa Fe High School in the city of Santa Fe Springs , California.   I enlisted into the US Navy in August 7, 1990 at the age of 17 into  the Delayed Entry Program.  Since I joined(with  parents permission) in the program(DEP),  I was able to lock in my  “A” School as a Electricians Mate(EM) and guarantee advancement to Third Class Petty Officer(E4) as long as I finished the program.

The US NAVY enlisted electrician program was 27 weeks long in the city of Great Lakes(also know as great mistakes),Illinois. The courses were very rigorous, five days a week, eight hours a day.  From studying  the electron, magnetic properties, AC/DC circuits, electronics, Ohms law calculations, reading blueprints, motor rewind, generator principles and all forms of troubleshooting that may be found in the fleet.

This is were I found my calling. I really enjoyed studying electrical blueprint drawings. Out in the US Navy fleet there is an unlimited amount of technical manuals and online research that was possible.  In addition, I got a lot experience being on my ship the USS ESSEX LHD-2 pertaining to the electrical plant and distribution system.  It consist of 5 steam prime mover General Electric 2500KW generators and 2 ALCO 251C 16 cylinder emergency diesel generators.  I remember this information because I stood generator watch in the enclosed console compartment(ECC) when out to sea for 12 hours on, 12 hours off, for many months.  I was able to parallel generators by synchronizing  their frequencies.  The electrical plant systems on a US NAVY ship is no joke.  Closing 4000 amp circuit breakers under full load will shake the entire platform.  Safety is of the most the supreme importance.  Everything is documented to the “T”.

I then decided ,after receiving a  Honorable Discharge from the US NAVY in 1996, to join the next greatest thing. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569  apprenticeship. A 5 year program located in San Diego, California.   At first it was a pay cut to be an apprentice, but I gained more than pay during my training.  The idea is to just listen and do as your told, from the most experienced journeyman in the industry.  WORK SMART/ NOT HARD, someone once  told me, a journeyman of forty years.

It’s the apprenticeship that I will always respect.  Where  you learn how to pull wire efficiently, especially when the width is the size of your fist. Bend steel conduit(RMC) right the first time by measuring twice, cut and bend once.  Being safe because everyone’s lives around you are depended on it.  A clean organized work area reflects on the finish product.  You get paid 8 hours, you work 8 hours.  It helps to stay fit as an electrician, especially all the ladder climbing to install conduit, wire and light fixtures.

Now after 25 years in the electrical trade working for signatory contractors,I decided to open my own electrical shop as a signatory contractor with the IBEW Local 569 San Diego.  Perhaps to put my skills from the past to good use.  The journey continues.

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