Risky business-Crane operations
By Don Decker, YAN News
For Yavapai-Apache, Seneca Couyancy, the words ‘No margin for error’ holds true in his line of work. Mr.Couyancy is a crane operator for D&O Cranes of Cottonwood and on October 24, he was on his giant crane slinging a steel porch called an “apex” that was being placed on some sturdy steel posts in front of the newly built community center in Tunlii.
Mr. Couyancy’s work requires a thorough knowledge of operating a hydraulic crane that can lift such things as water tanks, microwave towers, decorative landscape boulders and anything else that can’t be lifted by human strength. The crane is controlled by various levers that look like gear shifts and they control hydraulic fluids that lift the heavy objects for placement.
This day he is on his crane lifting a large steel fabricated porch unit made from massive steel which weighs about 7,000 pounds or 3 ½ tons.
You definitely don’t want to be standing underneath one of these lifts while it is being slung.
“I know what I’m doing exactly,” he says after he took a break from slinging a steel-framed porch that weighed several tons at the new
community center in Tunlii. You definitely do not jump into this line of work right off of the street.
Mr. Couyancy was trained as a crane operator by his company under a 4 year apprenticeship. He recalls his very first crane lift at the Drake Cement Plant near Paulden, Arizona where he lifted a 16,000 ton steel object.
“It was an exhilarating feeling much like jumping off of a cliff (into water) or riding a fast motorcycle,” he recalls. “It’s one of these jobs that can be extremely dangerous–you practice due diligence and take measurements more than once and know exactly what you are doing. There’s no guessing in it. It’s kinda of like an exact career,” he adds. Teamwork is involved as Mr.Couyancy calls into service his brother Shush’nah’kih (Two Bears) who gives him the hand signals.
“He’s my rigger-he goes with me to every job,” says Mr. Couyancy as he describes how the straps are placed on the heavy objects and then his rigger stands in the clear guiding the placement of the object. “I don’t ever make a lift without knowing what’s going to happen,” he adds.
Mr.Couyancy who calls himself an “Ironman at heart” has been on the circuit lifting in towns like Morenci, Arizona at the copper mines, the Palo Verde Power Plant in west Phoenix or lifting massive steel beams for freeway construction in the Phoenix area and out of state California, Utah and New Mexico
Every 2 years Mr. Couyancy takes a profiency test—a re-evaluation course to ascertain how well he can operate the crane and to check other things such as his vision. “This test is really to make sure you are on the top of our game. When you think about it, when you’re sitting inside of a half million dollar machine and then you have people’s lives at stake too,” he says.
Mr. Couyany’s almamater is Camp Verde High School. He and his wife have 2 children and reside on the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Clarkdale.
He is the proud son of Clark and Gloria Couyancy of Clarkdale and having a family breakfast with the parents-grandparents every Sunday morning is a tradition.
YAN News Photos