Let’s All TIRAP! The FCC and DoL Tell Us How!

OK, not the best title but the FCC and DoL have come together to develop standards for “Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program” (TIRAP), for the occupation of Telecommunications Tower Technician.

Announcement here.

Guidelines here.

Outline of schedule and training here.


OK, this is very exciting. The FCC and DoL have decided to outline the requirements for the Telecommunications Tower Apprentice, Level 1. You may ask why this is so interesting to me. Well let me tell you it’s because the DoL is defining the requirements that are going to be put on the tower technician aka the tower climber.

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When will they announce this? October 14th, 2014, 1PM in DC, so it’s Eastern Time. WOW! Requirements laid out! Requirements defined along with a public announcement.

When you look at the schedule and training document you will see they require OSHA 10, PPE training, CPR/BBP/First Aid, RF Awareness, Job Site Analysis, and SOW training. They also outline basic rigging and material handling. Does it stop there? But wait, there’s more! Operate hand tools, operate truck s and trailers, and introduction to structures and Appurtenances! Oh yeah, so much to learn! Let me tell you, this may not be cheap so the customer will be expected to pay more, like they would for an electrician, a mason, or any skilled labor. Maybe the executives complain as they still expect the laborer of years past that had no training but would risk their life for that $10/hour that went out to the lowest bidder. Band together climbing companies because those days are over! The requirements are laid out for you to demand more money to hire skilled labor! These guys are entering a new era, an era where they are going to be viewed as skilled talent. Remember those guys? They are the ones that most companies let go so the carriers could build out the systems for less money! I digress, apologies, let me get back to the point!

In the details they have knots listed, imagine that, the bowline and the clove hitch. They have the SOW listed so they actually want you to know and understand what you are supposed to do at that job site! Amazing insight!

Safety training is outlines, OSHA 10, Authorized climber, PPE, CPR, RF Awareness, Job Hazard Analysis, and SOW. All this required so the climber knows what is going on at the site. These are all explained in the documentation. I love it because this is something I have been saying for a while, not because I am right, because it should be expected that the guys out there should be prepared for anything that could happen. Training and practice will make them the best they can be. Don’t think that you can take the training once and that’s all. You need to make sure your people are trained early, trained often, and trained well! Practice makes the training sink in and if an emergency comes up there is no guess-work, just quick and thoughtful planning to save lives! Practice makes the safety training a habit. We all want good habits, not laziness. We all deserve to have the chance to save our workmates, our partners, our friends, our work family!

Technical training outlines the SOW, basic rigging, material handling opes/knots, antenna/line installation, lightning system installation and maintenance, tower structural installation and maintenance, and applicable standard awareness. They don’t stop there, they add test equipment, exothermic welds, basic understanding of regulatory issues, and operate trucks, trailers, and equipment. Bu hold on, there’s more! Operate hand and power tools like the normal power tools like drills and saws but also torches, connector tools, and tools applicable to the SOW. So much to learn. So many climbers already know this but don’t get the credit they deserve for such knowledge. Skilled labor, professionals are in this industry and now they will be recognized for it.

Let me tell you, this is a wonderful thing to be done by the FCC and the DoL. They are changing the landscape of this industry in the USA. We need the help. If you wonder why, then you live under a rock! This move is because so many out there have been falling, so many have been hurt, so many have been careless, and mainly because the industry let it happen! When I say the industry I lay the blame all around. Do you really think that $10 to $15 an hour is a fair wage for someone to make the schedule so someone’s smart phone will be able to download “Angry Birds” and get Facebook updates? Apparently it was the case. It’s the one thing that someone pushing a deployment could control, or so they thought. Then by simply saying, “I told them to be safe and use safety gear” they could wash their hands of it.

How will this affect you, it depends who you are. The climber stands to get more training and eventually get paid more. The tower crew companies stand to bid higher, make more money, but pay for more training and pay to maintain the training. If you are the end customer like a carrier, your prices will go up. That means that you will pay more for the climbers. I know you will complain, but let me ask you, what is a young person’s life worth anyway?

How will it affect the industry? Well, deployments may be delayed, but will they be delayed any longer than the auctions were delayed? Will the installation take longer than site acquisition? Will the installation take longer than the OEM takes trying to work out the bugs? You know, it goes back to what I said, everyone thinks that the climbing crew is the one thing that they can push and push. Well, now they will be pushing back.

I get a little fired up about this, but I have been on both sides. I know what it’s like to push and be pushed. If you push, take time to listen. When you listen you realize that there is a good reason that the crew can’t do the installation. When you listen you solve problems. It’s really a great thing. Schedule can be a bitch, but losing a life is something that people don’t forget. Schedules are something that’s forgotten in the end as long as the company doesn’t go under. Then they blame the costs and schedules. But when someone dies, all that fails to matter, at least to the family of the lost.

So I think this is a great thing and I am hoping the industry changes for the better. Remember that it takes talent and brains to do this job. Just because climbers get high for a living doesn’t mean that they lose sight of what’s important.

Tell me what you think about TIRAP! How is it going to impact the industry? Who do you think it will hit the hardest?

FCC = Federal Communications Commission

DoL = Department of Labor, OSHA is part of the DoL.

For more information on knots go to www.netknots.com and Adam wrote a book, go to http://www.telecomrigging.com/ to get one. I do not have any type of agreement with Adam Beck, but I think that this could really help you out.

For more information on other hazards, look at these links, bird-poop and ticks and more ticks and more ticks and more ticks!

Whistle blower information:



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NATE has announced their new Tower Family Foundation! It will launch today, September 10, 2014.


2 books. One for the new tower climber, the green hand, to understand that will be expected. The other is a handy aid to help out when you are at the site. I am writing a new book to go over all of the paperwork that you could encounter on the job so you understand what you are working on and what you should be doing. You may expand to other jobs in the industry. This can be the beginning of a great career path in the wireless industry.

W4W Cover 4sworWireless Field Worker's cover V2

My PDF books so you can buy with PayPal:

W4W Cover 4sworWireless Field Worker's cover V2



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