AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
Temperatures can reach 110 degrees for as long as seven months in the Southwestern Asia area. With mission assets such as vaccinations and computer server rooms, there is a special group of Airmen that make sure that the heat has little to no impact on the mission.
The 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration shop works around the clock to safeguard cool and steady temperatures for all personnel at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
“HVAC here in Al Dhafra encompasses maintaining the climate within infrastructure and mission essential equipment,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Mannion, 380th ECES HVAC journeyman. “By combatting the extreme heat in the desert, HVAC enables the capability of heat sensitive equipment, adequate work and sleep environments, and a focused force that is ready to tackle the mission 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
The uncontrollable desert heat is not the only trouble faced with HVAC systems.
“A good ventilation system helps to reduce the number of pollutants, bacteria and odor in a facility,” said Staff Sgt. Jasmine Jones, 380th ECES HVAC Journeyman. “HVAC is important in the fact that we need fresh air, and fresh air is good for the body and in commercial buildings as well in residences. It helps improve productivity.”
A day in the life of HVAC Airmen varies depending on the priority of the work order submitted to their shop. This group of 40 Airmen install, maintain and repair the different HVAC systems here at ADAB that can sometimes be difficult tasks.
“It’s kind of funny, you know, the hardship that we try to prevent everyone else from dealing with is the exact one we experience every day,” Mannion said. “That hardship is working in hot environments, but also includes small places, such as under the dorms or sometimes even inside walls.”
Tiny places and heat does not stop this crew, as they understand the effect HVAC systems going out can have on the mission.
“The gratitude expressed by sweaty customers after we fix their unit always makes me and my team feel prideful,” Mannion said. “But there are many prideful instances where we’ve fixed the A/C for heat-sensitive equipment, whether that be the servers at the communications squadron or the control rooms for the [unmanned aerial vehicles].”
This HVAC team constantly educates others by reminding ADAB personnel to stay adamant on preventative maintenance on HVAC systems in living quarters and in work centers.
“I ask that personnel take heed to the information provided in the dormitories and office spaces regarding changing the filters and keeping the unit clean,” Jones said. “I also ask that if you plan on propping any doors open to turn the HVAC unit off. This causes the unit to run at its desired capacity without working too hard to satisfy the temperature of the desired spaces. Lastly, do not try to troubleshoot your own unit! Please put a work order in through customer service.”
As the hot summer days approach ADAB, this HVAC team is dedicated to ensure controlled temperatures, whether it’s keeping computer systems from overheating or ensuring specific vaccinations and other medical supplies stay below a certain temperature.