Dirty Jobs: Water, fuel systems maintenance

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


6/19/2013 – SOUTHWEST ASIA — Water and fuel systems maintenance Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron worked to replace one of the largest sewage lift station pumps here June 18.

“These pumps tend to get clogged with rags, sanitary napkins, etc.,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Schrader, a 379th ECES water and fuel systems maintenance technician deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. “Our sewage systems weren’t built to handle anything other than toilet paper and sewage, so when people put other things in them, it’s bad news for everyone.”

The issue began with the damaged pump, but snowballed when the team went to replace it and a retaining rail pulled out of place requiring them to hoist an Airman into the hole to not only replace the pump, but also the unaligned rail.

“We have to make sure the sewage does indeed go away and doesn’t come back up,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Williams, the 379th ECES superintendent permanently assigned here on a one-year controlled tour. “This is one of the main contributing factors to delivering combat power — disposing of everyone’s waste, and it’s something a lot of people take for granted.”

The chief said the operation is a unified effort between agencies from across the wing including the fire department, bioenvironmental engineering, ground safety and his troops.

“The fire department provides the tripod and breathing equipment necessary for lowering our guys in the hole,” Williams said. “Bio ensures the quality of air in the confined space, while safety provides the necessary oversight to help keep us on track.”

Everyone uses the restrooms making it everyone’s responsibility to police what they put into the toilets so situations like these don’t occur regularly, the chief said. While it is understood that the systems can get old and clog on their own, the base can certainly help these Airmen in a preventative way from having to fix things that wouldn’t have been broken otherwise.

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