Facilities Airmen ensure integrity, accuracy part of job

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In a recent Letter to Airmen, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynn wrote, "Integrity ... refers to going the extra mile to ensure our work is absolutely accurate." 

While some may think this only applies to piloting an aircraft or tracking a satellite, that type of integrity and attention to detail is necessary for every job in the Air Force, as facilities maintenance engineering personnel already know. 

The facilities Airmen with the 30th Launch Support Squadron here oversee facilities for the 30th Launch Group, ensuring that everything from light bulbs to security systems is working properly. They also work with program managers using the facilities to ensure the facility can support their program, and they enforce safety regulations while the facility is in use or in construction. 

"We're the ones that make sure that the program is getting exactly what they wanted, that base safety is getting what they want," said Staff Sgt. Dawn Schultz, a facility maintenance engineer with the 30th LCSS. "We're the experts that kind of tie everything together." 

In order to keep their facilities within standards set by base and Air Force regulations, they have to know how almost everything works. The 2M0X3 technical school is more than eight months long and teaches the facilities Airmen electronic principles, HVAC and diesel mechanics. This in turn allows the Airmen to troubleshoot problems when they arise. It also allows the Airmen to fix problems or safety concerns before they happen. 

"The last thing you want is for someone to get hurt, whether it's a coworker or somebody with the program or yourself," said Master Sgt. Matthew Maestas, the 30th LCSS facilities NCO in charge. "Safety is definitely paramount for any operation." 

For example, he said, if an Airman from the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron was working on their facility's electrical wiring, facilities Airmen on site should make sure the circuit breaker is off and that the wires have been tested for power. 

"So it's helping them out," Sergeant Maestas said. "It's just a good Wingman concept in general." 

Attention to detail helps prevent injuries and saves time and money for the Air Force mission. Facilities Airmen, in another example from Sergeant Maestas, are required to do a quarterly operational and safety inspection of cranes. If the Airmen were to miss any details, it could result in damage to the crane, the equipment the crane was lifting, and possibly injure the operator. 

"If they're not paying attention to what's happening, there's a great potential to get hurt," he said. "Accidents don't just happen." 

The job of a facilities Airman may require an increased attention to detail, but so does every job in the Air Force, Sergeant Schultz said. 

"Without attention to detail there is no efficiency; people would keep doing the same thing over and over, getting things wrong, having to start from scratch," she said. "Just by paying attention up front, you make sure everything's right the first time and it makes life go so much easier down the road."