Kevin Rippman is an electronics control technician for the city of Savannah’s water treatment plants. He has been working with the city for nine years
Could you describe what your job entails?
Kevin Rippman: I work with the city of Savannah water treatment plants, and I fix pretty much anything electrical that breaks down, may it be the system, or power distribution, or any circuit board — or computers even.
What type of training does your job require?
Kevin Rippman: It requires some kind of technical school, in electronics or electrical work. I had a four-year apprenticeship in the Philadelphia Shipyard and a one-year class in technical school, so people can get their apprenticeships in different electrical fields and get this kind of job.
Did you always want to be an electrical control technician?
Kevin Rippman: No, not really. I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I got out of high school, I didn’t know where I was going, so I went to a technical school for a year and took computer technology classes, and then I landed a job at the shipyard in Philadelphia and got into that field, mainly because it paid more than any other trades, and I didn’t want to be working as a lagger insulater (a person who lays insulation).
What is your favorite part of your job?
Kevin Rippman: I like the freedom that it affords me. I’m at the top of the food chain in the electrical field, so I have a lot of free rein on what happens, what I do, and when I get it done. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people to go to for support, so if I can’t figure it out, I’ve got to go to go to the books. There aren’t really a whole lot of people here that can give me a lot of input or advice on equipment.
A good part of the job is most electronic stuff is in the air conditioned spaces or in cleaner spaces. It’s a water treatment plant, so it’s a nasty place, and most of the stuff I work on is in the cleaner environment, so no more nasty places.
So your least favorite part would probably be the smell?
Kevin Rippman: For this job, my least favorite part — yeah, would probably be the environment, the smell, just walking in mucky stuff.
What is the strangest or funniest experience that you’ve had at work?
Kevin Rippman: Oh goodness. (Laughs) Alligators is one of the good ones. We’ve actually had alligators stuck in our pits around here, and had to build a snare out of piece of rope and just got it around its neck and escorted him out.
A snake got fried in a motor control center once and broke the circuit breaker, and that got smelly more than anything else, because we had to scrape him out and then clean the gear up.
Do you have any advice for other people who aspire to have this job?
Kevin Rippman: Yeah, when you’re working around electricity, know what you’re doing before you do it. Anything electrical can be dangerous.
Don’t go into things if you don’t know what you’re doing. Be careful. Pay attention.
This has been another in our new series highlighting important people behind the scenes in Savannah. If you have any nominees, send their names, jobs, and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org