Burbank Water and Power Wins Big at L.A. Lineman’s Rodeo

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Competitors prepare at the Truesdale Training Center, Sun Valley, for the 2023 L.A. Lineman's Rodeo. Photo courtesy of Burbank Water and Power.

Anyone who has experienced the thrill of a traditional rodeo, with its showcase of skilled men and women mastering dangerous feats, knows the excitement it can stir. But beyond roping and bull-riding, there exists a different kind of rodeo—one that replaces ranching challenges with the tests of modern electrical skills.

The L.A. Lineman’s Rodeo allows electrical utility workers and apprentices to show off their skills in events such as pole climbs, hurt-man rescues, and live-line tool expertise. The quickest and the safest linemen win. At this year’s event in Sun Valley, teams from Burbank Water and Power won first and third places in this unique and electrifying competition.

The secret? They train every day just by going to work, balancing on power poles and climbing transmission towers. “These guys are up there, 40 feet in the air, working with up to 12,000 volts of electricity,” said Riad Sleiman, BWP’s Assistant General Manager of Electrical Services.

Cole Hazlewood competed on the BWP team that took first place overall, alongside team members Nick Erickson and Daniel Hernandez. It was Hazlewood’s third time competing and his first time placing first—his team placed second in the previous two years.

“Competing in the rodeo is fun and I enjoy doing it with my friends and showing what BWP can do,” Hazlewood said. He’s proud to work for BWP and the city he grew up in.

At the Burbank City Council meeting on June 25, where the competitors were honored, Vice Mayor Nikki Perez expressed her admiration. “I could never do what you do. Thank you for keeping the lights on. In Burbank, I’ve never experienced a power outage lasting more than three minutes,” she said.

The thrilling, family-friendly event attracted more than 3,500 people and was hosted in collaboration with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 at the Truesdale Training Center in Sun Valley. It not only showcased the linemen’s remarkable skills but also emphasized the critical role these workers play in maintaining Southern California’s power infrastructure.

Competition is fierce at the L.A. Lineman’s Rodeo. This photo from the 2023 competition is provided courtesy of Burbank Water and Power.

The competition was divided into Apprentice and Journeyman categories, with judges scoring based on efficiency and speed. Burbank Water and Power’s teams excelled, with Erickson, Hernandez, and Hazlewood taking top honors in the Journeyman category with a perfect score of 500 and the fastest completion time of 22 minutes, 6.53 seconds. Their colleagues Andrew Gomez, Charles Lorenz, and Aaron Moore secured third place, and another BWP team placed 17th.

In the Apprentice division, Jake Selco ranked 8th, followed closely by teammates Dylan Murray, Fernando Vargas, Bobby Garcia, and Kyle Hutchins in various positions. View all the winners L.A. Lineman’s Rodeo website.

The L.A. Lineman’s Rodeo, founded in 1991 by LADWP employee Ted L. Dario, not only provides a platform for recognizing the technical skills but also emphasizes the importance of safety and proper work practices among linemen.

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