Local

August 22, 2014

99th CES ‘plumbers’ keep mission flowing

Tags:
Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Alan Franklin, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance craftsman, uses a hand auger, or plumbing snake, to unclog a drain pipe at the Nellis Inn on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 19. The pipe Franklin was unclogging was the main drain for six other lodging rooms, which were not available for guests to stay in until the clog abated. The water and fuels systems maintenance shop is comprised of approximately 35 Airmen and civilians who work around-the-clock to take care of the base’s fire suppression systems, backflow prevention systems, plumbing systems, and the natural gas hydrants, pipes, tanks and valves.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — In one of the older buildings on base, tucked away amid the hustle and bustle on the Nellis flight line, Senior Airman Cameron Smith and his wingman are alone.

With his tool box in hand, he assesses the job order his team was called out to take care of — a clogged toilet. As the lights in the bathroom flicker and the overflowing water inches closer towards their boots, they get to work.

Ignoring the not-so-pleasant aroma emitting from the ‘porcelain throne’ his partner passes him his hand-auger, or plumbing snake, and he clears the obstruction in about 45 seconds. Before they can let out a sigh of relief, Smith’s phone rings with another job to complete – fixing a busted water line spraying water 10 feet in the air.

For Smith and other 99th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance technicians, the scenario above is an example of a typical morning on the job, but is not the only thing they are responsible for, explained Master Sgt. Fortune Murray, 99th CES water and fuels systems section chief.

“We do a lot more than just go around and plunge toilets,” Murray said. “We take care of all the fire suppression systems and backflow prevention systems, in addition to the plumbing systems. So we can handle anything from a simple plumbing job in the sink to a broken water main. Basically all of the water on base – from the initial supply until it leaves as waste water – gets touched by the shop.”

Since January 2014, the shop has completed 1,860 job orders and spent 5,634 preventative maintenance hours to ensure the base’s continuous water flow is uninterrupted.

Staff Sgt. Alan Franklin, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance craftsman, loosens a screw on a drain pipe in order to reach the cleanout of the pipe at the Nellis Inn on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 19. Once Franklin could reach the cleanout, he was able to unclog the pipe without taking it out of the wall or replacing it. Since January 2014, Franklin and other water and fuels systems maintenance technicians have completed 1,860 job orders and spent 5,634 preventative-maintenance hours to ensure the base’s continuous water flow is uninterrupted.

“On the water side of the house, we are running 24-hour ops, making sure all the potable water on base stays that way and is properly chlorinated, disinfected and distributed to the correct place,” Smith said. “We also take care of natural gas – the fuel hydrants, pipes, tanks, valves, etc. We’re pipe maintainers pretty much, so if any of the fuel tanks break or any of the pipelines break we take care of it.”

When Red Flag exercises kick off, the water and fuels systems technicians’ job activity is kicked into overdrive, Smith said.

“We really get hammered with non-stop calls for clogged toilets and sinks from buildings that are all out on the flight line,” Smith said. “Not [just] on the flight line, [but] pretty much around the whole base we are constantly having to repair old systems.”

With approximately 35 Airmen and civilians to complete their mission, Murray said daily tasks keep everyone on their toes.

“A lot of other people go into work knowing exactly what they’re going to be doing all day,” Murray said. “Every day is different for us. You could be working on a water main one day, a fuel valve the next, do some interior plumbing the day after, you just never know. I have guys that haven’t been able to check their emails for two-to-three days at a time, because they’re constantly out of the office.”

Although challenging, Murray and Smith agree on how rewarding the job can be if done right.

“People don’t understand how important our job is until it really hits the fan,” Smith said. “I like the fact that we’re kind of unknown and definitely under appreciated. It’s humbling to know how important we are, but nobody knows exactly what we do. We ‘generic it up’ by saying we’re just plumbers, but we really do a lot more.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders

57th OSS integrates new ATC radar system

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders Staff Sgt. Christopher Beier, 57th Wing Air Traffic Controller, monitors radar activity on the newly installed Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, Oct. 15 a...
 
 

Future of AF helicopter fleets discussed at conference

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — Air Force Global Strike Command’s Helicopter Operations Division hosted the Worldwide Helicopter Conference here Oct. 7-9, to discuss the current and future state of the Air Force’s helicopter fleets. The conference promoted cross talk among the Air Force’s helicopter forces, which are principally operated by Air Combat Command, Pacific...
 
 

Online vigilance helps reduce risk

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — I received at least five emails last week warning me to secure my social media settings and be aware of what I post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why? Do you not like to see what I had for dinner last night? Too many #selfies? Are photos of my dog eating...
 

 

Nurturing relationships and a culture of caring

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — When life gets challenging, stressors can build and conflicts can escalate, sometimes leading to abuse. Preventing domestic abuse is fundamental to basic relationship maintenance. Partners in healthy relationships work together every day to nurture their relationship, taking care to address issues and concerns when they occur. Healthy relationships should...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika

Open House to celebrate Nellis’ legacy of liberty

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika Gary Nellis, son of the late 1st Lt. William Harrell Nellis, Nellis Air Force Base’s namesake, stands in front of memorabilia he has of his father at his home in Henderson, Nev....
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shad Eidson

799th SFS turns up heat, wins Fire Muster traveling trophy

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shad Eidson Members of the 432nd Wing Staff team fill a drum to complete the ‘Bucket Brigade’ final event during a fire muster challenge at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Oct. 10. The 4th An...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin