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Indy DFAC undergoes maintenance after pest concerns

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderson
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The Independence Dining Facility is undergoing $105,000 in maintenance and renovations after it was shut down on July 25, to address concerns involving cockroaches and pests.

“We take these concerns very seriously—the sanitation of our DFACs affects our Airmen and mission,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel Tulley, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing commander.

The food service facilities on the installation are inspected at least once a month by the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s entomology section, for any evidence of pests. If any are found, they treat the affected areas. The facilities are also inspected by Public Health, in accordance with Air Force Manual 48-147_IP to ensure Dining Facility employees follow the Tri-Service Food Code.

“While food facilities are amongst the cleanest facilities on base, they are also the only facilities that offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ type of environment for pests,” said Staff Sgt. Ricky Brockberg, 379th ECES, entomology craftsman. “Pests have the same needs as we do: food, water, and shelter. If you eliminate the resources for their survival then you can ultimately [reduce their chances of survival].”

According to Tulley, pest remediation efforts have fallen short and outdated expeditionary facilities, paired with tough environmental conditions make combating the issue more challenging.

“The DFAC will be closed for a minimum of two months to address the root causes. This includes removal of unserviceable refrigerator units, address plumbing and flooring concerns and conducting additional extermination efforts,” said Tulley.

Closing the Independence DFAC has far reaching impacts, not only for the facility staff, but for those they service and the units that help make the food service mission possible. But, it was a necessary step to improve the quality of life on base while ensuring base personnel are ready to deliver decisive air power to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. 

The Independence DFAC, more commonly known around the installation as the Indy, is the busiest dining facility on Al Udeid Air Base, serving more than 5,500 meals a day.

“[After the closure] the traffic had to be distributed to our other facilities,” said Maj. Logan Jergens, 379th EFSS Sustainment Flight commander. “Our remaining food facilities had to be converted to 24 hour operations, putting additional stress on already heavily stressed facilities.”

The installation itself, hosts the largest food operation in CENTCOM and the second largest food service operation in the Air Force, second only to basic military training. The DFACs and Grab n’ Go locations here serve approximately 13,700 meals every day. So, closing the Indy was no small feat.

Immediately following the dining facility closure, organizations around the installation teamed up to make the transition from three dining facilities to two as seamless as possible. The units worked together to determine and address all the maintenance issues at the Indy so it can be reopened.


What did it take to close the Indy?

The 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, 379th ECES and the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron immediately went to work.

The 379th EFSS was charged with moving the food stored in Indy’s large refrigerator and freezer units to facilities across the installation.  They also had to work with the civilian contract company to adjust schedules and transition the remaining four dining facility and grab n’ go locations to 24-hour operations. This allowed AUAB to continue feeding the base population around-the-clock.  

Airmen from 379th ELRS worked to create a bus route to give base personnel living or working on the Coalition Compound a way to get to other dining facilities.


What’s happening now?

The 379th ECES facility maintenance team is working to fix maintenance issues that are believed to be the root cause of the pest issue.

“We have demolished three walk-in freezers and replaced the two salad bars in the main dining area,” said Tech. Sgt. William Copp, 379th ECES Water and Fuels Systems Maintenance lead for the facility maintenance team. “The importance of what we are doing is huge but, will be transparent by many, aside from the two newer salad bars many people will not notice most of the work done.”

ECES has made numerous structural, electrical and plumbing repairs to help get the Indy back up and running.

“The team has repaired multiple leaking waterlines and secured several floor drains,” said Copp. “The electrical team has already repaired outlets and light fixtures and the structures team has repaired issues with doors, ceilings and several other structural deficiencies.”

But there’s still some work to do. The 379th ECES estimates it’ll take more than 1460 hours to fix all the maintenance issues at the Indy, the oldest expeditionary DFAC at Al Udeid, which has been in operation long past its intended lifespan, up and running again.

“While [the DFAC closure] is an inconvenience for many people on base, the civil engineers are working hard to fix the maintenance issues surrounding the facility,” said Copp “We are trying our best to work quickly, but we want to make sure we address everything. Like you, we don’t want the dining facility to be shut down any longer than it has to be.”


What’s next?

The ECES heavy repair shop will soon be placing concrete where the large refrigerator/freezer units use to be.

After all the structural, electrical and plumbing issues are addressed, and the facility is nearly ready to open, entomology will conduct a final inspection and insecticide treatment before reopening the facility.

 “The elimination of pests is nearly impossible,” said Brockberg.

“While the critters may never go away completely, ECES entomology will do everything they can to try and eliminate them including monthly inspections and routine treatments.”

“[We will] Identify potential points of entry, herbage areas, route of travel, food and water sources and from that information we can work with staff or other shops to eliminate pests while limiting our use of chemicals,” said Brockberg. “While it may seem like the answer should be to, ‘Fog the entire building and spray chemicals’ this is far from the truth.”

Trying to eliminating the pest issue takes consistent maintenance and effort from ECES, EFSS and Public Health.


What do you do if you notice an issue at any of the facilities?

While the pest problem may never go away, it takes a consolidated effort, not only from the units responsible for maintaining the facility but also those who frequent it. If you spot an issue at any facility, speak up.

“We welcome your active feedback to facility managers on any concerns you see: see something? Say something, take action,” said Tulley.

“We urge our customers to immediately bring up any issues to one of our EFSS members, military or contractor, in the facility,” said Jergens. “We want the best and want all issues brought to our attention.”