HVAC technicians endure the heat to keep base cool
By Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 09, 2012
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- A properly functioning air conditioner is on the top of the priority list for most Airmen deployed here, even though they might not realize it. And the reason they don't need to think about it is because the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning shop makes sure this desert necessity is at everyone's fingertips and doesn't fail.
The shop follows a strict recurring maintenance program that was developed to extend the life of air conditioning units, said Master Sgt. Andrew Malinich, HVAC shop NCO in charge and native of Osceola Mills, Pa.
Monthly maintenance includes cleaning the filters, checking fan belts for frays, and spraying the unit's coils.
"The Airmen spray the coils with a pressure washer to remove dust and make the unit function efficiently," said Malinich, who is deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The year-round program is important because the air conditioning units must work properly when the summer months come around, Malinich added.
"As the weather warms up, it gets more noticeable if the unit hasn't been properly maintained," he said.
The temperatures here can approach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and the added humidity can raise the heat index even higher.
The need for air conditioning, along with the arid climate, keep the HVAC shop busy, said Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, an HVAC technician from St. Augustine, Fla.
The HVAC shop cleans more than 120 air conditioning units a week, which means long days and a lot of time in the sun.
"We also replace air conditioning units that have died or exceeded their ability to cool effectively," said Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, who is deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan. "We are working on replacing a 25-ton package unit that cools a large complex."
The HVAC Airmen have spent the last four days working sun-up to sun-down to get the new unit functioning for the service members working in the building.
"It feels good that we were able to give them a brand new air conditioner that will keep that building cool for years to come," said Myers, a native Danville, Va.
There's a lot of gratification that comes with the job, according to Yarolimek.
"Everyone wants to be our friend because we keep them cool," said Yarolimek, who is deployed from Dover Air Force Base, Del. "People always love the HVAC guys."