LRS prepares for first snowfall
By Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 06, 2016
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Washington winters can cause many issues, especially for vehicles on the roadways and taxiing aircraft. At Fairchild, the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Maintenance shop begins preparing for the unpredictable winter months and the weather they bring, eight months prior to the anticipated first snowfall.
Beginning in April and ending in October, the Vehicle Maintenance shop is tasked with completing their summer re-build goal prior to the first snowfall.
VM maintains a fleet of more than 400 vehicles. With approximately 36 snow machines, the six months leading up to Washington winters are packed with replacing fluids, exchanging filters and are crucial to ensuring the machines are ready to go.
“Our snow removal fleet is absolutely imperative to the mission,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Buesch, 92nd LRS vehicle fleet manager. “If it snows, the flight line needs to be cleared. In the winter months aircraft need to be de-iced while on the flight line and right before takeoff. If we don’t have the assets ready for the snow it could cause mission delays.”
The main mission of the VM shop is to keep all vehicles, construction vehicles or snow machines, up and running to ensure aircraft can move safely and swiftly across the flight line.
“It is very important to ensure our snow machines are operating properly and on time, to make sure the flight line remains operational and stays in service,” said Senior Airman Kevin Ruffcorn, 92nd LRS mission generation vehicle and equipment maintenance journeyman.
In addition to replacing the filters and fluids, VM replaces safety items such as lights and windshield wipers, conducts in-depth troubleshooting, in-depth electrical inspections and conducts tire maintenance.
“We inspect bumper to bumper, looking for anything that may cause issues during the winter and we fix it now,” Ruffcorn said. “We want to have as little repairs during the winter time as possible.”
During the offseason, VM maintains the base’s snow brooms, deicers, plows and snow blowers.
“No one really understands how big of a role we play and how important these machines are to the air-refueling mission,” Ruffcorn said. “Without these machines, the flight line would close every winter, for months, due to the snow and ice.”
The plows, blowers and brooms remove excess snow from the flight line allowing easy and safe movement by aircraft and other vehicles. The deicers ensure there is no ice on the runway or aircraft, allowing for safe takeoff, flight and landing.
VM has a combined total of approximately 46 Airmen. Like most shops, they face manning challenges when Airmen are sent on deployments and TDYs. Although they face manning challenges during their busiest months, VM doesn’t let it affect the mission.
“We are a small shop in comparison to other LRS and maintenance shops,” Buesch said. “VM is one of, if not the tightest flight on base. We all work together really well and are not afraid to lend a helping hand. Teamwork and camaraderie is paramount.”
Don’t miss the annual Pre-season Snow Parade happening Oct. 14.