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HVAC keeps the Rock cool

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zachary Kee
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The motor whines nearly dying from suffocation as the sun beats down from the dusty sky above. Slowly but surely the air conditioning unit takes its last breath of cool air as the motor comes to a dying halt.

Minutes later, the people inside stop feeling the refreshing cool air and realize what happened, their A/C unit is broken. In a near frantic panic, they make the call to the only office on base they know that specializes in fixing these near emergencies.

The 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation and air conditioning shop comes to the rescue and jumps into action to diagnose and fix the issue at hand.

The HVAC shop maintains and fixes over 725 A/C units across the base. These units range from standard window units to field deployable environmental controlled units that are used for tents and other military shelters.

The temperatures at this location vary, and can reach the upper 120s at this time of year. It’s not uncommon for it to reach 130 degrees. Facing these temperatures makes the HVAC Airmen’s jobs more difficult and creates new issues around the base.

“Most A/C units aren’t designed for extreme temperatures like we have here,” said Senior Airman Kyle Cvoliga, 386 ECES HVAC technician. “The high temperatures increase the head pressure on the units, which can cause them to go off. Because of the extreme temperatures, we have to maintain them much more frequently to keep them at their optimal levels.”

Even after the hottest days, and several sweat soaked sand t-shirts the HVAC Airmen lean on each other to get the mission done and have built camaraderie across their team.

“We all know how important we are to the base and how people are happy to see us out fixing things,” said Staff Sgt. Russel Dutcher, 386 ECES HVAC technician. “We try to have fun while still getting work done, and the camaraderie is good.”

Like most offices around the Rock, the HVAC shop is made up of active duty, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve Airmen and Dutcher says it’s something that continues to yield opportunities to learn and share experience.

“It’s great, and some people even do the job as civilians,” he said. “At any point in time you’re either teaching someone something or learning from someone else.”

It’s because of the hard work of these civil engineers that base buildings can stay cool. This means people can continue to get after the mission day in and day out at the Rock.

“It’s definitely about the big picture,” said Cvoliga. “The A/C in every facility affects something, whether it’s comm equipment or the personnel in the building itself, not having that A/C makes it very uncomfortable. It’s rewarding to know that at the end of the day our job has an impact to keep everything going.”