YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Climbing towers is not a job most may consider. It requires courage and strength — two things Matthew Yankush possesses.
“It’s fun. You get up there, and it’s just you up there in the sky. Free world,” Yankush said.
Yankush has been climbing towers for almost four years. He says he loves his job and the views it brings.
“I’m up there every day. I get to see all of Youngstown. People have to pay for a plane ticket to see those kind of sites,” he said.
The tallest tower he has climbed is the tower at the WKBN station, which is almost 1,400 feet high. He says it took him about two-and-a-half hours to get to the top.
As a tower climber, Yankush is responsible for tower maintenance and replacing equipment. He said he was trained by the company he works for, Tri County Tower LLC.
Every job is different. Some may be a 15-minute job, others may last hours.
“Anything from building them to taking them down and anywhere in between. Maintenance on them, changing the light bulbs, keeping the lighting up on them. Installing the antennas, running lines. Anything that has to deal with the tower,” he said.
He said this isn’t a job for those who are scared of heights, obviously. But, there are safety precautions they take to ensure they don’t get injured.
“All you have to do is trust your equipment, trust your gear, trust your safety lanyards. Trust yourself, trust your balance,” he said.
He said each tower is different. Some have ladders they use to climb up, some have pegs, and some they climb right on the poles.
There are certain weather conditions that prevent the climbers from working on the towers. Lightening, or single-digit temperatures would put a halt on the work. But Yankush said they do work in hot weather and throughout the winter.
Tower climbing has been considered one of the most dangerous jobs in America. This is because the death rate compared to the number of workers is fairly high.
In the event of a medical emergency, it could be difficult to receive immediate medical attention if up on a tower.
In July, one worker from Tri-County Tower, LLC suffered a medical condition while working on a tower. He later passed away at the hospital.
Still, Yankush says he loves what he does and wouldn’t pick anything different.
“I love it. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I go to work, you know. I go out here and I have fun. We have fun with each other,” he said.