See Elmira from 830 feet in the air in the video player above.
ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – If you’re wondering why WETM’s channel 18 signal was cut off in the afternoon on August 4, it’s because two tower riggers climbed over 800 feet into the air to replace lightbulbs on a broadcast transmitter tower.
Tim Squire has been a tower rigger for over 30 years, climbing up to 2,000 feet on cellphone, broadcast, and 911 emergency response towers all over the world. But in Elmira, Squire watched from the ground as his two men, Anthony and Connor, climbed the 830-foot WETM tower near Harris Hill and tried to beat the oncoming storm.
“My goal was to be one of the oldest tower workers out there, but I don’t think my body’s gonna let me do that,” Squire said.
The men replaced lightbulbs on their way up, but riggers do any and all repair work needed on towers, including replacing antennas or even painting the steel.
He said on days that reach upward of 100 degrees, bringing water with you is crucial. He suggested bringing a bottle of frozen water to bang on the steel bars, turning it into a slushie.
On the other hand, when climbing in winter weather, Squire said “layer, layer, layer”, almost to the point where you can’t move.
“There’s not many of us in the world that do this type of work,” Squire explained. “Versus carpenters, plumbers, electricians… there’s millions of them. But there’s not too many broadcast and radio, television tower workers.”
Tim’s crew had to hurry back down the 800-foot structure after replacing the bulb at the very top—Anthony said he could hear static in the oncoming rain clouds.
The two reached the ground about seven minutes before the thunderstorm started.