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Team Fairchild hosts virtual Facebook Town Hall

Team Fairchild leaders hosted their first virtual Facebook Town Hall to answer questions Airmen and their families had about quality of life at the base March 20. Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, and a team of base leaders answered questions submitted by Team Fairchild members and their families. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Jesenia Landaverde)

Team Fairchild leaders hosted their first virtual Facebook Town Hall to answer questions Airmen and their families had about quality of life at the base March 20. Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, and a team of base leaders answered questions submitted by Team Fairchild members and their families. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Jesenia Landaverde)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Team Fairchild leaders hosted their first virtual Facebook Town Hall to answer questions Airmen and their families had about quality of life at the base March 20.

Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, and a team of base leaders answered the following questions submitted by Team Fairchild members and their families:

Q1: Is Fairchild going to receive cost-of-living adjustment to meet the high prices of real-estate in the local area compared to the rest of the nation?
A1: The Defense Travel Management Office website has calculators and FAQs regarding the continental United States COLA entitlement. Fairchild is not currently listed as an eligible location for this benefit, and won't qualify until the consumer price index exceeds eight percent above the national average. There are only 16 cities and four counties in America with a CPI exceeding eight percent that are receiving CONUS COLA. Of note, Seattle didn't even make the list. Rates are reviewed and updated annually on Jan. 1.

Q2: What is being done to address delays at the front gate?
A2: In an effort to reduce wait times, we have four entry controllers in the morning at the front gate. We have also placed an additional two at the gate when we expect heavier traffic flow due to wing events. Additionally, the Thorpe and Rambo gate is open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday – Friday to help with morning gate traffic.

Q3: Why are housing privileges not based on rank or family size?
A3: Our housing inventory is limited, but Balfour Beatty Communities follows the Air Force standards when offering houses to Airmen. A family will be offered at least the minimum standard for the member's rank and number of dependents. The unit offered to a family also depends on existing vacancies when the family moves to Fairchild.

Q4: At other bases, a two-hour delay meant to stay off the roads to allow time for 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen/city workers to make the roads safer. It seems here at Fairchild, a two-hour delay is just a "suggestion."
A4: The delay is two-fold. First, it allows for 92nd CES Airmen and city snow removal teams to continue to clear roads and parking lots. Secondly, it allots our members additional time to travel to work, allowing for slower driving. "Up to a two-hour delay" is the maximum time we are allowing for reporting to better manage both base recovery and congestion at the main gate.

Q5: With the new flying and maintenance squadrons coming to Fairchild, will manning increase in all of the 92nd Mission Support Group’s squadrons as well to accommodate all the new Airmen?
A5: The primary personnel increase will be in the maintenance and operations groups to accommodate the new aircraft. However, we will continue to advocate for increased support personnel above the roughly 20 support members already planned. We continue to push for additional base support services to accommodate incoming personnel and families.

Q6: Since the Fun Spot closed down, will there be anything to replace it? Our kids enjoyed the batting cages and bowling.
A6: Good news! Construction and renovations are underway for a Fun Spot replacement at the Red Morgan Center near the Commissary and Base Exchange. While batting cages and bowling will not be part of this project, we have an indoor sports field and a playground included in the plan. There will also be a snack bar/pub concept with rooms that can be reserved for birthday parties and social events. Check out FairchildFun.com for the latest updates on this project.

Q7: When is Air Force Specialty Code-based physical training testing going to drop?
A7: AFSC-based PT is already being tested in some of the more physically-demanding career fields, specifically for Battle Field Airmen. Additional research is being done to address PT testing for the larger population to determine the most effective measure of our fitness levels.

Q8: Why is the 92nd Medical Group considered “mission-essential personnel” at Fairchild when the clinic is smaller than other clinics across the Air Force? I understand ambulance services, but not the rest.
A8: Injury and illness are the most common reasons people cannot work. The 92nd MDG maintains a small cohort of personnel who are mission-essential. In the case of delayed reporting, we do our best to accommodate our existing appointment schedule as staff safely arrives.

Q9: I'd love to hear the outcome of the housing survey.
A9: The housing conditions of our Airmen and families remain our top concern. As such, we identified 23 homes meeting the Department of Defense and Air Force’s criteria for health and safety concerns outlined in the survey. We will complete all 23 in-person home walk throughs by March 22. The survey also identified other issues not health or safety related that we are partnering with Balfour Beatty to resolve.

Q10: What is the plan to add on-base entertainment?
A10: With the exception of the Fun Spot replacement at the RMC, there are no plans to add additional recreation facilities to Fairchild. However, we continue to strive to add more programming for our Airmen and their families. We just hosted the first SnowFest in February at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort. On May 1, we will be hosting the G.I.’s of Comedy at the RMC, a free comedy show for people over 18 years old. On June 21, the SkyFest Open House Premier Party will be open to members of the Team Fairchild community, featuring entertainment and food.

Q11: How are the network connectivity issues at Fairchild, especially Outlook going down regularly, being addressed? Is there a timeframe for when it will improve?
A11: We just finished the secondary physical fiber connection coming into the installation. We expect it to take an additional two months to complete the "virtual" programming. This should improve connectivity while providing redundancy.

Q12: Has the base considered developing a symposium for new first sergeants and their families? There's already one in place for active duty members interested in vectoring into the position, but it would be very helpful if the new first sergeants and their spouses could get more information about how the job is going to affect their family and home life.
A12. This is a great idea! Chief Master Sgt. Lee Mills, 92nd ARW command chief, will discuss this with the members running the next program to see if we can incorporate families into some portions. If the timeline is too short to make it right, we'll look at the next opportunity. The intent is already in place to include families in the interview process for members being considered for a first sergeant position.

Q13. How much is Fairchild's population going to grow during Air Mobility Command's Mobility Guardian exercise?
A13. Fairchild’s population will certainly be larger! We will have an additional 2,500 – 3,000 national and international personnel participating in this large-scale mobility exercise during the month of September.

Q14. Are there any plans to put in a turf soccer/football field?
A14. There are plans to install an indoor sports field in the new Fun Spot in the RMC. A preliminary plan for an outdoor soccer/football field has been developed, but this project has not competed well against other Air Force priorities.

Team Fairchild will continue to address the concerns brought to their attention and will also look to do another virtual Town Hall again in the near future.