Rick Irvine

Rick Irvine


With 48 years as a Journeyman Lineman and 50 years as an IBEW member, Rick regards his life as an incredible adventure.

Fifty-four years ago in Cherokee, Iowa, Rick and his wife Cathy embarked on a commitment to their young family, rooted in the values of hard work and community. As their family grew alongside their career journeys, they aspired to transmit the core principles of their midwest upbringing to their three children and eight grandchildren.

In the early stages, they seized the opportunities that were available in their small community. After spending three years at a local meat packing plant, they recognized the need to invest in themselves. This marked the commencement of their venture into the unknown, with two young children in diapers and no insurance coverage. Unfamiliar with the details of line work, they decided Rick would enroll in a 9-month vocational school, now known as NW Iowa Community College in Sheldon, Iowa. Relocating to Lincoln, Nebraska, he successfully completed his apprenticeship and achieved the status of a Journeyman Lineman, specializing in rubber glove work at Lincoln Electric System, a municipal power company. Three and a half years later, their family moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he embarked on a career spanning more than three decades at Washington Water Power (now Avista Corp), specializing in hot-sticking.

After a brief 3-day “retirement,” he embarked on a 13-year journey as a part-time instructor at Avista/SCC Lineman School, specializing in pre-apprentice training. Simultaneously, he joined the IBEW books, taking on outside Journeyman roles in construction across the PNW, including Montana, Oregon, and even Hawaii. Recently, he’s been serving as a line project inspector at Utility Construction Inspections. Additionally, he taught at NUTEC for Local 77, receiving EPZ trainer classes from retired Bonneville EPZ expert Harvey Haven. One of his most meaningful experiences was volunteering three times in Suriname, South America (shown in the photo here), teaching line theory and safety to power grid workers, management, and leaders. Initially known as SABI, this initiative is now endorsed by the IBEW as Linemen Without Borders.

With 48 years as a Journeyman Lineman and 50 years as an IBEW member, Rick regards his life as an incredible adventure. He’s grateful for the sacrifices made by his wife and family—missed events, enduring major storms, close calls, and even deaths— and he feels now that he has one last commitment: “We all bear the responsibility of sharing our knowledge with our extended family of line workers. What a diverse family it is, spanning from Iowa to Nebraska, the PNW, Hawaii, and Suriname. Stay safe, my brothers and sisters.”