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380AEW Article

Beating the heat: ADAB ‘keeps its cool’ thanks to HVAC

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Preston Webb
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen with the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration shop consistently help Al Dhafra personnel beat the heat, especially during the hottest, busiest months of the year.

“In the month of July, we responded to over 892 work orders,” said Master Sgt. Gregory, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron HVAC NCO in charge. “All the while overcoming the heat, vehicle breakdowns, fatigue and customer challenges.”

Whether it’s leaking air conditioners or mechanical failures on cold-storage units, HVAC Airmen are responsible for maintaining much needed relief and safety to base personnel. Staff Sgt. Zachery, 380 ECES HVAC technician, said some Airmen work in certain structures that, if the air conditioning malfunctions, reach temperatures in excess of 150 degrees — a temperature available on most conventional ovens.

Gregory said there are two key components to effectively employ Airmen in the shop and accomplish the mission.

“Number one is prioritizing the workload to balance out mission critical needs and also ensuring ADAB personnel can have air conditioning for crew rest,” Gregory said. “Number two is managing that balance with the equipment and personnel available and conveying these challenges to customers who are just as frustrated with the heat as we are.”

Not only does the shop repair malfunctioning equipment, but performs maintenance often overlooked by customers — such as washing condenser coils on exterior units. Condenser coils are meant to disperse heat outdoors, and get covered with dust several times faster here than they do stateside, James said.

Gregory said even routine upkeep presents unique challenges.

“There was no power washer available to clean the equipment,” Gregory said. “Two guys carried four cases of water up a ladder and spent two hours washing the coils of the air conditioners so the occupants could accomplish their mission.”

Higher heat, Zachery claims, means higher call volumes due to overuse and equipment failures — frustrating customers. To get the longest usage out of on-base equipment, Zachery shared a few pointers.

“First, make sure filters are clean. Second, don’t set the temperature too low. Just because it’s set at 18 degrees doesn’t mean it’ll ever reach that temperature,” Zachery said. “It’s just going to cause the unit to never shut off and fail.”

Despite the never-ending flow of work orders and broken equipment, Zachery said he loves his job and finds gratification in being able to physically feel the impact he, and the rest of the HVAC shop, is having on the mission.

“Things break. Nothing’s meant to last forever. [Fixing them] is why we’re here,” Zachery said “After working on something when it’s 110 degrees outside and being able to walk in and feel the difference, along with our customer’s appreciation is really gratifying for me.”