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386th ECES HVAC section cools Ali Al Salem

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Francis Lalic
  • 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron

As summer time presses on and the desert heat rises, members from the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC) shop assigned to 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron work around the clock to provide comfort cooling for Ali Al Salem base personnel.

“The summer months in Kuwait are extremely hard on HVAC units,” said Capt. Jesse Trawick, 386th ECES Operations Flight commander. “But our HVAC shop has put in the work to make sure they are ready to respond quickly and effectively.”

HVAC technicians are responsible for the air conditioning’s installation, maintenance, repair and sustainment operations of over 600 facilities across three wings, to include coalition forces and various tenant units.

“That being said, we need the entire installations support to minimize trouble calls,” said Trawick.

Throughout the base, the shop manages more than 2,000 pieces of cooling equipment, which equates to over 24,000 hours of preventative maintenance for sustainability. These are vital to the success of every mission involved in those facilities.

“Setting the temperature to over 20 degrees Celsius and cleaning out filters every two weeks will go a long way to ensuring HVAC units stay operational and we can respond to those that don’t as fast as possible,” Trawick said.

By definition, preventive maintenance program ensures the recurring care and periodic servicing by certified technicians for the purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in satisfactory operating condition by providing for systematic inspection, detection, and correction of incipient failures either before they occur or before they develop into major defects.

Technical Sgt. Jeremy Burgos, deployed from 166th Civil Engineer Squadron, New Castle, Delaware is the current HVAC shop controller said managing the preventative maintenance of the Ali Al Salem’s air conditioning units has been a crucial aspect of our shop’s success, and ultimately to the overall sustainment of critical equipment and Airmen’s morale across the base.

From offices to server rooms and aircraft hangars to mission support facilities, the specific internal temperatures needed are imperative for the functionality of the equipment and personnel.

“Proactively working on these units week after week has given us the opportunity to identify issues with these unit’s preemptively before they become major problems, effectively extending the life span of these units and being better prepared to provide cooling in this powerful desert heat,” Burgos said. “We have been able to significantly reduce the number of work orders that would normally come to the HVAC shop, especially in the heat of the summer months.”

Comparing last year’s number of work orders to this time of the year, HVAC cut approximately 86% of average number of work orders received from the base facility managers due to proper maintenance performed.

“Our Airmen’s efforts with the Preventative Maintenance program has given us the opportunity to focus on units that really are in dire need of our attention,” said Burgos. “This is my third HVAC deployment and I have never seen a crew of Airmen so motivated to get the job done.” 

For Burgos, the primary reason the majority of units are operating efficiently and smoothly is due to the preventative maintenance work that the HVAC shop’s personnel conduct on a daily basis, providing cool work and living environments to fellow airmen

Besides logistics and other factors, the summer months are typically the most challenging to maintain appropriate indoor temperatures, which leads to an overwhelming amount of work order requests for the HVAC technicians on base.

According to Master Sgt. Christopher Johnson, 386th ECES shop NCO in charge, the HVAC shop plays a vital part in the success of the Air Force mission.

“Having an HVAC system shutdown can have devastating results on the overall mission,” said Johnson, who is deployed from 146th Civil Engineer Squadron, NC. “While we support many critical facilities on base, our technicians work very hard to provide excellent customer service, while keeping safety in the forefront of our shop’s mission.

On base, technicians have to troubleshoot a multitude of mechanical, electrical and commercial package systems, controls and expeditionary climate controlled units. HVAC systems are very complex by nature.

“Safety is our top priority while we perform any type of equipment maintenance,” Johnson added. “We ensure we practice safety in everything we do. Our Airmen’s welfare is more important than anything else.”

The HVAC shop recently won the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Award of Distinction and Air Force Central Command Unit Safety Team award for outstanding safety practices, compliance and contributions.

For 386th ECES commander, Lt. Col. Peter Choi said HVAC is in very high demand throughout the year and even more so during the high heat months of the summer.

“In order to prioritize and efficiently work issues, following the work order process communicating with your designated facility manager and/or lodging management to submit work orders is critical,” said Choi. “One thing everyone here at ASAB can do to help keep HVAC units running smoothly is following the prescribed preventative maintenance by cleaning the filters every two weeks.”

The shop stresses the importance of tenant units using facility managers to report any facility issues not limited to HVAC. By utilizing the respective facility managers, it will help ensure a timely response and suitable work order tracking system since these individuals are trained to properly put work order requests through the 386th ECES customer service.

For any work orders or any civil engineering related issues, please call ECES customer service at 442.2929