Civil Engineer Ops flight keeps water flowing

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Cedric Morris, a utilities systems specialist with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, uses a pipe cutter on Jan. 31. Pipe cutters are often a faster and more convenient way of cutting pipe than using a hacksaw because they produce a clean cut. The 30th CES mission is to take care of each other while delivering superior Civil Engineering services to their customers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Staff Sgt. Cedric Morris, a utilities systems specialist with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron, uses a pipe cutter on Jan. 31. Pipe cutters are often a faster and more convenient way of cutting pipe than using a hacksaw because they produce a clean cut. The 30th CES mission is to take care of each other while delivering superior Civil Engineering services to their customers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christian Thomas)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Water is a resource that Airmen can't live without. Have you ever wondered where it comes from?

To find the answer, look no further than Vandenberg's own Civil Engineer operations flight.

The flight, which has over 350 personnel, is responsible for maintaining the base's most important resources.

"We are tasked with maintaining base property electrical power, and the base water supply," said Darryl Parks, 30th CES operations flight deputy.

This is a task that does not end after the duty day.

"We provide qa full crew 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "A water line doesnt always break during the duty hours."

The crew works hard to keep the base in supply of drinking water at all times.

"We use water wells for two months out of the year that we maintain and treat," said Staff Sgt. Douglas Duarante, 30th CES utilities system specialist. "The rest of the year we receive water from a pipeline through the state of California."

The water this crew maintains is not always the drinkable kind.

"We also field a lot of plumbing calls," said Sergeant Duarte.

These calls aren't always as complicated as the customer might think.

"Getting called to use a plunger at one o'clock in the morning is not always fun," he said. "Our job would be a lot easier if people would take the time to learn how to use one."

An overlooked responsibility that this crew deals with is the upkeep of the fire supression systems.

"We have to coordinate with safety to ensure that our sprinkler heads are working properly," Sergeant Duarte said.

In case of a fire, the sprinkler heads can be what keeps a building from burning to the ground.

This flight's mission changes very little in theater.

"When we deploy, we work either with the Red Horses who are putting up new infrastructures, or we continue our base support job," said Segreant Duarte. "Water supply is a big issue in the desert, as you can imagine."

It is rare to find someone who is willing to come to a house at 1 a.m. to unclog a toilet. The multi-facet career, that these Airmen are a part of is a necessity for military operations.