Building blocks of the cabling trade, caught on tape

Those of you who attended the bicsi Winter Conference in Orlando, FL, last January got a preview of the latest offering from the Cabling Installation & Maintenance franchise: a new set of training videos that covers the planning and implementation of cable pulls. The four-part series, which begins shipping this month, includes individual videos on planning the pull, pulling horizontal cable, pulling riser cable, and pulling cable to the workstation. The set will prove to be a valuable tool and a

Apr 1st, 1999

Patrick McLaughlin

Associate Editor

patrick@pennwell.com

Those of you who attended the bicsi Winter Conference in Orlando, FL, last January got a preview of the latest offering from the Cabling Installation & Maintenance franchise: a new set of training videos that covers the planning and implementation of cable pulls. The four-part series, which begins shipping this month, includes individual videos on planning the pull, pulling horizontal cable, pulling riser cable, and pulling cable to the workstation. The set will prove to be a valuable tool and a time-saver to those who are tasked with training newcomers to the cabling industry.

How do I know so much about these videos, and why am I convinced that they are a worthwhile investment? I have a small role in them as an assistant cable-puller. Because I entered this industry with a journalistic rather than a technical background, I was excited about the opportunity to participate in the creation of these videos, get on a job site, and experience firsthand the daily responsibilities of cable-pullers. I also accepted the role, thinking that the assistant cable-puller probably has little responsibility, so I couldn`t possibly mess things up too badly. I soon found out how important the job is, and I now liken it to a building`s foundation, which must remain sturdy and reliable.

I gained other insights into the cabling trade as well, thanks in large part to Dennis Mazaris, president of cabling-consulting firm PerfectSite (Sterling, VA), who directed the video series. "We`re going to bring you down from your ivory tower and show you what it`s like to be a real cabling guy," Dennis promised. And he delivered. For starters, shooting took place at night in a building that was under construction. We had to work around the schedules of other contractors, so we couldn`t begin until they were gone. Once we got in, we could work all night, as long as we were out before the other crews showed up in the morning.

At times, working by ourselves in an empty building at midnight was appealing because nobody else was in our way and we weren`t in theirs. But when something unexpected happened, like when we couldn`t gain access to an area we had to work in, we didn`t have a property manager or building supervisor to turn to. And our request for access to another part of the building was denied because we would have been in the place late at night, unsupervised.

As for the work itself, suffice it to say I don`t plan to quit my day job. I distinctly recall two episodes of intense perspiration--one when I was pulling a bundle of approximately 50 to 60 cables into a telecommunications closet and another when I could feel the weight of experienced eyes staring at me as I fumbled while trying to install a cable-hanging hook. The physical demands of the job--from brute force to manual dexterity--have not been lost on me.

Furthermore, I found myself trying to learn an entirely new language. Dennis once said to me, "OK, now show us the pullback," to which I responded, "What in the [world] is the pullback?" So he, Tom Suder, and Joe Smith--the other cable-pullers in the videos--patiently walked me through the pullback, dropback, and other common cabling practices. Then I got to perform those practices in front of the camera.

Unfortunately for me (and for Dennis, Tom, and Joe), I didn`t have a video that I could view for 30 or 40 minutes to learn what I`d need to know on the job. So we spent a considerable amount of time each night, or early morning as was sometimes the case, ensuring that I was familiar with everything I needed to know and do.

Fortunately for you, now that this series is available by contacting us here or by visiting our Web site at www.cable-install.com, your new cable-pullers can view a set of videos that will show them exactly what they need to know before they step onto the job site. Just make sure they don`t get their hands on the outtakes of me embarrassing myself.

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