HVAC turns up the heat

Airman 1st Class Chad Burton readies a large wrench before inspecting various pipes within a boiler room Nov. 30, 2010, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th Civil Engineering Squadron heating ventilation air conditioning shop performs inspections and maintains everything from residential air conditioning systems to boilers at non-residential buildings at Eielson. Airman Burton is assigned to the 354th CES HVAC shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by/Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas)

Airman 1st Class Chad Burton readies a large wrench before inspecting various pipes within a boiler room Nov. 30, 2010, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th Civil Engineering Squadron heating ventilation air conditioning shop performs inspections and maintains everything from residential air conditioning systems to boilers at non-residential buildings at Eielson. Airman Burton is assigned to the 354th CES HVAC shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by/Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas)

Airman 1st Class Chad Burton checks various components within a boiler room that provides needed heat to a building Nov.30, 2010, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th Civil Engineering Squadron heating ventilation air conditioning shop provides the manpower to maintain very dangerous components to allow Team Eielson to remain mission-ready. Airman Burton is assigned to the 354th CES HVAC shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by/Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas)

Airman 1st Class Chad Burton checks various components within a boiler room that provides needed heat to a building Nov.30, 2010, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The 354th Civil Engineering Squadron heating ventilation air conditioning shop provides the manpower to maintain very dangerous components to allow Team Eielson to remain mission-ready. Airman Burton is assigned to the 354th CES HVAC shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by/Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas)

Tech. Sgt. Markus Scruggs and Airman 1st Class Chad Burton carry tools and equipment back to a government-owned-vehicle before returning back to the shop Nov. 30, 2010, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. For the Icemen at the 354th Civil Engineering Squadron heating ventilation air conditioning shop work never stops and daily preparation serves as practice for major repairs in the future. Both Sergeant Scruggs and Airman Burton are assigned to the 354th CES HVAC shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas)

Tech. Sgt. Markus Scruggs and Airman 1st Class Chad Burton carry tools and equipment back to a government-owned-vehicle before returning back to the shop Nov. 30, 2010, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. For the Icemen at the 354th Civil Engineering Squadron heating ventilation air conditioning shop work never stops and daily preparation serves as practice for major repairs in the future. Both Sergeant Scruggs and Airman Burton are assigned to the 354th CES HVAC shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by/ Airman 1st Class Yash Rojas)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- As the mercury plummets below zero, the 354th Civil Engineering Squadron Heating Ventilation, and Air Conditioning shop endures the challenge of maintaining Eielson Air Force Base mission-ready.

HVAC helps keep the parts and components of HVAC systems throughout the base operable, even during the harsh Alaskan winters.

According to Tech. Sgt. Markus Scruggs, 354th CES HVAC craftsman, there is hardly a dull moment when tending to the numerous work orders on base, especially when considering the critical systems HVAC is responsible for year-round.

HVAC performs inspections and maintains everything from air conditioning systems to boilers at non-residential buildings at Eielson.

Boilers and radiators may not seem as important as combat aircraft, but they are fundamental to keep Eielson running. In an environment where temperatures have been known to reach an extreme cold, heating is essential to the mission.

A major concern at Eielson is steam loss, said Sergeant Scruggs. "Most of our buildings have steam heating so if we are losing steam they aren't working as efficiently as they could be."

Boilers are checked twice a day, even on the weekends. HVAC has two Airmen on-duty to ensure there is always someone ready to respond in case of an emergency.

While steam boilers and steam radiators are vital to maintaining Eielson operations, safety is the number one priority for Airmen in HVAC.

Boiler checks are important especially when thinking proactive about preventing safety mishaps. The temperatures and pressure created carry potential dangers if Airmen aren't knowledgeable and seasoned in their job.

Safety is always number one when working with highly pressurized and scalding temperatures, but the Airmen that make up HVAC have learned over time that preparation is key.

"We do a lot of maintenance, it's very important," said Sergeant Scruggs. "Over the summertime we try to get a lot of our maintenance repairs done. If we have major repairs we can't address during the winter we do it in the summer."

For the Icemen at HVAC work never stops and preparation for major repairs only makes them better at their job.