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Expeditionary HVAC technicians battle the heat; distribute the cool

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Arielle Vasquez
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
In a desert environment, the ever rising temperatures, reaching over 120 degrees, and exposure to harsh elements can present unfavorable conditions. For Airmen with the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation and air conditioning shop, they brave this every day to keep the mission rolling.

Not only do these technicians provide cooling, but also ensure the preservation of food storage units and that the wing’s command and control communications systems are operating without any hiccups.

“It is critical that we keep high priority facilities cool and comfortable so members can accomplish their mission,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Olson, 386th ECES HVAC technician. “As we work on these units every day, it gets easier to recognize what needs to be fixed, enabling us to repair them at a faster rate each time.”

The ops tempo doesn’t come without its challenges, but the 386th HVAC technicians always remain ready for what’s next.

“We’re constantly staying busy,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Fernandez, 386th ECES HVAC technician. “Even when there are not many work orders, there is always something to do in the shop, whether it’s reviewing manuals, inventory or additional training.”

A 19-member shop supports more than 1,900 units for all U.S. members and coalition partners throughout the base. While the HVAC team is expected to get busier as the summer months are nearing, they currently manage more than 20 work orders a week.

The team is broken into three different shifts to balance the workload and provide 24/7 availability. The day shift handles the bulk of the work load, the mid shift completes any pending and incoming work orders, while the night shift is primarily responsible for preventative maintenance of the units.

With the increasing number of work orders, HVAC technicians appreciate residents who take the initiative to conduct preventative maintenance on their units.

“As it warms up more, the heat and sandstorms will cause additional stress on the units,” Olson said. “It would help us out immensely if the residents continue to clean the filters and wipe it down if their units are getting dirty. At the end of the day, if everyone pitches in, this will keep the units around the installation in good shape.”

Despite the obstacles the technicians may encounter, they have all have stated how much they enjoy their professions and their direct role in keeping the base running at full speed.

“We have a lot of experience within our shop and being in an expeditionary environment allows for an excellent learning opportunities,” Fernandez said. “The mission doesn’t ever stop here and we are fortunate to have a solid group of Airmen who are geared up to tackle what comes their way.”