Electrical system specialists provide mission with plenty of power
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- With technology fueling much of the Air Force fight, electricity is always at the heat of operations.
Electrical systems specialists from the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron install, repair and maintain 2,200 operational facilities on Andersen in addition to base housing. The electricians are also responsible for maintaining several different distribution systems that include high voltage, airfield lighting, lightning protection, fire alarms and interior electrical.
Composed of 22 military members and 10 civilians, the unit works in unison to perform preventive maintenance to ensure the base has reliable power. To accomplish this, the unit inspects distribution systems every quarter to make sure they continue to run smoothly. Their No. 1 goal is to try to extend the lifecycle of each distribution system as much as possible.
In total, the unit completes 1,300 preventive maintenance jobs, upholding 188 munitions storage areas to include Terminal High Altitude Area Defense fire alarm systems and 830 systems across North West Field.
Sometimes preventive maintenance doesn't always prevent emergency repairs, but the unit is primed to respond within 24 hours and urgent jobs within seven days.
During the aftermath of Typhoon Dolphin that impacted the island this May, the crews battled substantial damage and power outages across the base. The unit responded and isolated more than 165 electrical hazards around base within 24 hours. Dividing their work into 12-hour shifts, the crews worked around the clock alongside local contractors toward regaining power to multiple facilities and base housing after the storm. Due to the damage, Airmen were tasked with 73 emergency jobs.
"Our Airmen vigorously worked to restore power to Andersen AFB," said Master Sgt. David Taitague, 36th CES NCO in charge of electrical systems. "When facilities lose power, we do not go home until power is restored."
When working jobs, the unit tries to match up Airmen with experienced civilians. Working alongside veteran electricians allows Airmen in upgrade training to learn valuable skills in the career field.
"The civilian workforce section is like the bread and butter when it comes to training and upgrade training," Taitague said. "We do our best to pair up our members with the civilians so we can get some of that experience."
In addition to upgrade training, they also have to pass demanding annual certifications that document their newly learned skills. A select few technicians get the chance to attend one of the Air Force's expeditionary training centers where they perform their jobs in deployed environments and austere base locations.
Despite the myriad of challenges, Andersen AFB's power team functions as a close knit shop that integrates new arrivals like Airman Dakota Bennett, 36th CES electrical systems specialist, into the mission.
"It's great to be a part of the team here," Bennett said. "I learn something new every day and hope to continue gaining experience along the way."
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