• Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natasha E. Stannard
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
"Without snow removal we wouldn't be able to fly our aircraft during the winter," said Ted Strom, pavement and equipment foreman.
The Fairchild Snow Barn is responsible for snow and ice control of the 14,000 ft runway, and all aircraft parking and taxiways. They also cover all base streets and parking areas except for housing, which is contracted, he said
"Once snow starts to accumulate, we start plowing," Mr. Strom said. "We work on all areas of the base simultaneously."
To accomplish this task, he said, the snow barn operates year round to prepare for the months of adverse weather. It also holds 24-hour operations from Nov. 1-March 18 to ensure the airfield is clear.
"The airfield is our number one priority," he said "We make sure alert aircraft are able to depart on a moment's notice. We also make sure people can get to work."
Last year snow was mild, but the year before it snowed 100 inches, Mr. Strom said.
"We're expecting a colder and wetter winter this year, which means more snow," he said. "But, our preparations this year aren't any different because we always prepare for the worst."
During the months leading up to winter, the snow barn and vehicle maintenance complete maintenance on the snow equipment. The snow barn also marks obstacles like fire hydrants, which can get damaged and damage the snow equipment if buried in the snow.
They prepare and keep the streets clear so Airmen can accomplish the mission, Mr. Strom said.
In order for the snow barn to accomplish its mission, Airmen can help by keeping an eye out for extraneous material in the plowing areas because it can slow removal and break the plows. They should also make sure to move their cars to designated parking locations because the plows can't properly remove snow if vehicles are in the way.
Mr. Strom also emphasized the importance of safety, especially with regards to low visibility and excessive speed.
To stay safe this winter, the snow barn offers these tips:
· Remove snow from walk ways before foot traffic begins
· Only use chemicals on thin ice. It will melt snow, which will freeze into thicker ice.
· Vehicles should stay 100 ft behind snow equipment
· Be aware that visibility is poor in most snow removal vehicles
· Slow down and approach intersections with caution
· Comply with parking signs and designated TDY areas
· Keep driveways and areas around fire hydrants free of snow.