Cpl Joel Merrifield, caretaker of the “communication web”

Cpl Joel Merrifield

(L-R) Cpl Joel Merrifield, Kelly Dean, Cpl Phillippe Burney, and Cpl Jason Abel of the BIS line shop take a skyscraping break at the top of a telephone pole at Work Point.

Inside the small trailer where Cpl Joel Merrifield works in Dockyard, the walls are plastered with plans, blue prints, and schematics. Every corner holds some manner of equipment, be it bolt cutters, spools of cable, or harnesses.

As a part of the Line Workshop in Base Information Services, Cpl Merrifield is constantly installing, repairing, and replacing the spider web of communication cables that run over and under every building, shed, and workshop on the base. It’s a big task, but Cpl Merrifield would rather spend his days at the top of a pole figuring out a line break than doing anything else.

“I feel like I was made to do this job,” he says. “You’re always solving problems, whether they’re mental or physical. I love the challenge.”

Those problems usually take him to the top of a telephone pole or underneath CFB Esquimalt in one of the base’s many maintenance corridors.

Low height, cramped space, and creepy crawly residents don’t bother him. It’s par for the job. As is staying vigil about safety.

Linemen wear gas metres when they go underground, which they monitor to ensure the air is breathable. Also, as part of their safety practices, whenever a member of the line shop goes on a call, someone trained in rescue procedures goes along as well.

Cpl Merrifield has been a lineman since he joined the army in 2004. After completing basic training on the Island, he then completed an apprenticeship before shipping off to CFB Petawawa, ON, in 2005. During his six years in Ontario, he deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, completing a seven-month tour maintaining the communications infrastructure on the base.

“It was a way different job. It’s so hot that all the physical work you do is much more draining,” he says. “We had to stay hydrated, and that added a whole new angle to the job.”

Eight years into the trade and Cpl Merrifield couldn’t be happier.

“I don’t want to do anything else. This is just such a good fit,” he says. “It’s nice to come to your job every day knowing this is what you want to do.”

Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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  1. Jack Bates says:

    Contact me if you are interested in some old “Signals” line stories about Work Point……jb

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