Water is an essential resource for people on a military installation — whether it’s to mix milk formula for a newborn or to power wash an A-10 Thunderbolt II that just landed on base from a joint-agency exercise.
To have it readily available, the 355th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel systems maintenance shop at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., maintains, repairs and inspects structures ranging from water wells to sewer systems every single day of the year.
“Our job is to provide drinking water for the base populace and respond to emergencies, both water and fuels related,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Hustead, 355th CES WFSM craftsman.
Working closely with other units and assisting them with their mission is one of the many ways these Airmen get the work done. Having the same job, but specializing under 12 sub-specialties varying from water well inspections to water fountain installations, these Airmen make sure they are equipped with keeping the installation safe and mission-ready.
“What most people don’t know about our career-field is how much we actually do in our craft,” Hustead said. “We help maintain the base by going out on jobs when plumbing fixtures are no longer working or when there are issues at the gas stations or at the 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oil and lubricants flight.”
Most importantly, the shop ensures clean water is accessible to Airmen, their families and other inhabitants by treating and producing it.
“DM is unique in that we produce and treat 100 percent of our drinking water, and most other installations get some or all of their water from outside the gates,” said Gustavo Gonzalez, 355th CES WFSM work leader. “We maintain nine water wells which produce around 700,000 gallons of water per day for the base populace, including the 355th CES fire emergency and services flight and base swimming pools.”
On a daily basis, the shop conducts inspections on all equipment and structures that pertain to water, fuel and waste. All systems under their control are monitored closely, and an Airman is always on standby to respond and alleviate any possible scenario that could affect the base.
“365 days a year we must maintain every well and every water tower on the installation to ensure water is safe to drink,” Gonzalez said. “Even on Christmas day, a technician is completing water checks. Some days we begin performing preventive maintenance and end the day knee-deep in a trench repairing a water main. No two days are exactly the same.”
The WFSM shop realizes how vital water and fuel is to not only human life, but to the lethality DM brings to the Air Force mission.
“Without water you run the risk of dehydration,” Garcia said. “And on the fuels side, no jet fuel equals no planes in the air – pilots become pedestrians, and we’re out of the fight.”
Each DM Airman has their own designated part in executing the mission, and the WFSM shop makes sure to provide the bare necessities to execute that mission 365.