CE operations flight keeps base running

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Water, light and electricity are all resources that Airmen take advantage of on a daily basis. The question that those Airmen seldom ask is where do the resources come from?

To find the answer, look no further than Vandenberg's own 30th Civil Engineer Squadron 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 concerning with electrical power along with 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 a full crew 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "Power outages can happen at any moment due to wind and rain."

The crew works hard to keep the outages as short as possible, but they can range from minutes to hours, he said.

Along with power, keeping the base's drinking water in high supply drinkable is a top concern for this crew.

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

The water that 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. "Are 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 suppression systems.

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

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

This flights mission changes very little when 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 Sergeant 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 operation. It is because of the hard work of these Airmen that Vandenberg is able to perform its invaluable space mission.