Each “Tower Dog” is responsible for their safety and the safety of their crewmates, it’s a combination of training and common sense. Crew chiefs are responsible for overseeing every member of their crew, for surveillance of the site, and for all subsequent paperwork that is needed. Being a crew chief is a huge responsibility and should not be undertaken lightly.
Crew chiefs perform a lot of the same day-to-day tasks as those who work below them. They take on more responsibilities and must be right up in the action, so to speak, to oversee operations.
Climbing- Just because they are now in a supervisory role, crew chiefs are still required to climb towers (usually in excess of 500′) and perform much of the same related work as their crew.
Giving Direction- Being able to effectively communicate is vital to ensure everything is done right, the first time. This saves time, money, and lives. All deviations from the original work order must be documented complete with an explanation of the reasons for deviation.
Checking crew certifications- Life gets busy, especially when you work for three weeks straight at a time. It is the job of the crew chief to make sure that certifications get renewed. It is also the responsibility of the crew chief to check on the certifications of any subcontractors that are used. These qualifications are important for safety and the companies reputation.
Testing/Inspection- The crew chief is the one who performs sweeps, PIM, and tests fiber and ground connections. Before the work is signed off on, the crew chief must inspect it for quality and that it follows all regulations.
Filing paperwork- everything from close-outs to time sheets must be filed in a timely manner. Nothing is worse for the morale of employees than not getting paid for time worked because of a paperwork error. While it may seem monotonous, filing out paperwork is a skill that is transferable to any field.
To be qualified for the position of a crew chief, the candidate must possess a certain skill set. Among the list of necessary skills there is:
- Leadership skills
- Computer literacy
- A comprehensive ability to read engineer drawings, sweeps, and specifications
- Strong safety values
- Comprehensive knowledge of tower construction methods
- Safe work practices
- Knowledge of safety rigging practices
- Ability to climb and maneuver effectively
There are also certifications that are required for anyone wanting to be a crew chief. The candidate must have First Aid/CPR certification, OSHA certification, RF Safety & Health, PIMS, ComTrain, and Anritsu Certification. The levels and specifics of where the programs are completed may vary by employer, but in order to be effective in the leadership role, the certifications must be met.
Stepping up to the role of crew chief seems like a natural progression for a tower climber. When this many lives are at stake, applying for crew chief should never be taken lightly. Every aspect of the day-to-day must be known from the inside out. Even with all of these skills, the crew members must respect you and your opinions if someone is to be an effective leader.