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HVAC technicians endure the heat to keep base cool

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of St. Augustine, Fla., closes an air conditioning unit panel here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians are trained in air conditioning unit maintenance, new unit installation, and system repair. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of St. Augustine, Fla., closes an air conditioning unit panel here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians are trained in air conditioning unit maintenance, new unit installation, and system repair. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of St. Augustine, Fla., sprays off air conditioning unit filters here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians clean the unit’s coils and filters, and check fan belts during a monthly inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of St. Augustine, Fla., sprays off air conditioning unit filters here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians clean the unit’s coils and filters, and check fan belts during a monthly inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of St. Augustine, Fla., pressure washes an air conditioner unit here Feb. 7, 2012. The 379th ECES HVAC shop cleans about 120 units every week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class David Yarolimek, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of St. Augustine, Fla., pressure washes an air conditioner unit here Feb. 7, 2012. The 379th ECES HVAC shop cleans about 120 units every week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., removes a panel on an air conditioning unit to check a fan belt here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians clean the unit’s coils and filters, and check fan belts during a monthly inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., removes a panel on an air conditioning unit to check a fan belt here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians clean the unit’s coils and filters, and check fan belts during a monthly inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., removes filters from inside an air conditioning unit here Feb. 7, 2012. The 379th ECES HVAC shop cleans all air conditioning units on base to keep the units functioning properly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., removes filters from inside an air conditioning unit here Feb. 7, 2012. The 379th ECES HVAC shop cleans all air conditioning units on base to keep the units functioning properly. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., rolls up a pressure hose after spraying an air conditioning unit here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians spray the coils of the unit to extend its life and make the unit more efficient. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., rolls up a pressure hose after spraying an air conditioning unit here Feb. 7, 2012. HVAC technicians spray the coils of the unit to extend its life and make the unit more efficient. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., re-installs air conditioning unit filters here Feb. 7, 2012. The temperatures here routinely break 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, so preventative inspections and maintenance ensure the units function year-round. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airman 1st Class Terence Myers, 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, and air conditioning technician and native of Danville, Va., re-installs air conditioning unit filters here Feb. 7, 2012. The temperatures here routinely break 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, so preventative inspections and maintenance ensure the units function year-round. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon)

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."