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Water, fuel systems maintainers work around clock to keep up flow

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Many may not know, but underneath every person's feet at Andersen Air Force Base lie unseen miles of pipeline.

It is up to the water and fuel systems specialists of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron to not only maintain the 45 miles of fuel pipeline and 100,000 miles of water lines, but also inspect and maintain the Air Force's largest fuel storage buildings, which in total hold 66 million gallons.

Day and night, the 36th CES Airmen install, inspect, modify and repair 600 facilities that include water and wastewater treatment systems, water distribution, waste collection systems, fire suppression, backflow prevention systems and liquid fuel storage.

"Basically from the moment the water reaches the base to the moment it leaves the base as waste, it is our responsibility," said Staff Sgt. Staci Ducusin, 36th CES water and fuels systems craftsman.

The shop is composed of 13 Airmen and 20 civilians working in sync. The military members are trained to work with both water and fuels, while the civilians are specialized and hone in on their skills as liquid fuel maintainers, mechanics and plumbers.

"The beauty of having (civilians) here is that they understand these buildings, that have been renovated many times and sometimes we (military personnel) don't know how the plumbing works in there," said Staff Sgt. John Steklachick, 36th CES water and fuels systems craftsman. "It's a learning process, but experience is obviously going to take the lead."

Since water and fuels systems maintainers are trained to work with both water and fuels, they have a wide variety of skill sets and are tasked with a range of jobs throughout the day. 

The utilities systems maintainers' job is to ensure Airmen always have the water they need wherever they are.

"Whenever people call about clogged toilets or backed up floor drains, we are the ones maintaining that and trying to keep flow going downstream," Steklachick said.

The crews are also trained to set up field water purification units and field water distribution systems, as well as maintain and repair permanent water facilities to bring potable water to the warfighter. They also repair, maintain or replace washers, valve seats, leaking faucets and water/sewer lines where needed.

The liquid fuels systems maintainers' job is to perform preventive and major maintenance on liquid fuel systems used for storing, distributing and dispensing gasoline and jet fuel. In addition, they manage periodic inspections on liquid fuel systems for leakage, corrosion, and faulty fittings then make necessary repairs or adjustments.

"Our job is extremely important," Steklachick said. "We deal with the quality of life. Imagine a base without water and fuel. You need a runway and water to establish an Air Force Base."