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Lead Signals & Lighting Tech keeps his cool

For a guy who dodges traffic all day as a Lead Signals & Lighting Technician in the City’s Traffic Engineering Division, Brad Jones is surprisingly calm. When asked about his job keeping Chandler’s streets well lit and traffic signals maintained, he recounts stories of a coworker getting struck by a car and a “data storm” that once threw a dozen City intersections into flash mode.

Yet, each story is recounted with a serenity more akin to a librarian than someone frequently suspended 20 feet above rush hour traffic on the end of a bucket truck fixing a burned out traffic light. You might be tempted to attribute his laid back demeanor to his southern California upbringing, but you’d be wrong.

“The pace out here is a lot slower,” said Brad, who moved to Arizona in 1996 shortly after his wife’s family moved to the state. “In California you’ve got to be aggressive. You gotta get in there. You gotta move. You don’t wait, you just go.”

A journeyman electrician by trade, Brad worked for Sturgeon Electric Company before joining the City in 2002. He was laid off from Sturgeon during the economic downturn following 9/11 and credits his wife Sherri for spotting the job announcement that led him to Chandler. He began as a temporary employee and hasn’t looked back since.

“I like the variety of the work,” Brad explained. “There’s always something going on; it’s not always the same thing day in and day out. We’re always learning new stuff, new technology. Just when you think you know it all, something comes up that you haven’t come across before.”

Helping convert the City’s signal communication network from copper wiring to fiber optics has been among his larger projects. He also has been involved in converting the bulbs in traffic lights to energy-efficient LED. More recently, Brad has been busy with the installation of new flashing yellow left turn arrows at 54 Chandler intersections and connecting new signals associated with the widening of the Chandler Boulevard/Alma School Road intersection.

Regular maintenance of the signals and controllers at Chandler’s 218 signalized intersections also keeps him and his coworkers busy.

“We do a major PM (preventive maintenance) at every intersection annually,” Brad said. “We divide the intersections among four techs, so we each have about 50-some intersections to do. We have three months to get our share of the intersections completed. We clean out the cabinets, tighten all the screws, check voltages and amperages, check signal heads and make sure they’re level, et cetera.”

With summer’s arrival, Brad said the heat can become an issue, but he prefers the heat to working in the cold.

“When I was a teenager, a couple of buddies and I moved to Minnesota; a little adventure,” he said smiling. “I didn’t have a car and had to walk to work. My face froze. My hands froze. I didn’t last the winter. I hightailed it back to So Cal.”

Brad’s chilly Minnesota experience does appear to have benefitted him in his current job. He’s able to keep his cool despite the Arizona heat and zooming traffic.