Joint BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The 628th Civil Engineer Squadron’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration flight provides service and maintenance to nearly 270 buildings at Joint Base Charleston.
Personnel assigned to the 628th CES/HVAC maintain a variety of heating, cooling and ventilation systems on the airbase and work around the clock to keep the HVAC systems up and running.
“We provide support for a variety of systems throughout the air base,” said Emmett L. Martin HVAC shop supervisor for the 628th CES. “We maintain anywhere from conventional HVAC systems to geothermal systems, boiler systems and gas infrared heater systems. We have two central main chiller plants that we maintain, operate and repair. We also install equipment that is used to support the base's overall mission.”
Master Sgt. Anthony Blazer, NCO in charge of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration, assigned to the 628th CES, said quality of life is the reason HVAC is so important.
“We’ve got to take care of people,” he said. “We have periods throughout the year where it does get below freezing and you need the heating systems to operate to max capacity, and we also have hot water boiler systems.”
“There are also communications facilities that require equipment cooling,” he added. Without HVAC capability, a lot of communication servers would go down.”
Martin said one of his most memorable moments working on HVAC systems was an issue that needed to be fixed in a centrifugal chiller plant.
“It provides cooling for the dining facility as well as three dormitories,” he explained. “The system went down last year and we had a pipe leak that we couldn't identify. We kept having nuisance calls. Then Col. Terry, the 628th Mission Support Group commander, came out and realized what was going on. She showed her support, and we were able to get the plant back up and running and get the residents and the dining facility AC cooling. I think that was probably one of my better times, as far as getting equipment up and running in a timely manner. It affected a lot of people.”
Blazer said they need at least two people on ride-out teams during hurricanes because of the requirements needed from HVAC.
“There are 24/7 operation facilities that some of the buildings on base still need to maintain,” he said. “We have to be able to get our systems back up. There [are] several communications buildings where the servers are used for emergency services so we have to be able to still get out there and make sure that their servers don't overheat.”
Martin said one of the rewards of his job is the self-gratification from helping so many people.
“We work in hot attics and the boiling sun,” he said. “A lot of people work indoors in a climate controlled room and they're calling on the phone, while we work in 90 to 150 degree heat That's why we do what we do. You get a feeling of self-gratification when you get something up and running. You overcome what is wrong, you troubleshoot it and fix the problem. When the person says ‘thank you’ or we have some customers that bring us refreshments, it means a lot.”
With the variety of systems the 628th CES/HVAC supports, the quality of life for members of Joint Base Charleston is an important one that they constantly work for.