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Dirt Boyz: Paving the way for a cleaner base
Senior Airman Jorge Robles, 354th Civil Engineer Squadron heavy equipment operator, power washes the front of a snow plow April 28, 2014, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Robles cleaned grime off of the snow plow that accumulated during last winter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor/Released)
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Dirt Boyz: Paving the way for a cleaner base

Posted 5/8/2014   Updated 5/8/2014 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- In the winter, they're seen driving giant snow brooms to ensure base personnel are able to drive safely. Now that the snow is gone, Dirt Boyz from the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron continue to work hard in cleaning the base and making it safe to drive.

"We're going to get into summer repair, which includes fixing fences, signs and anything else that the base would need, to get it back to how it was before the winter season," said Master Sgt. Mathew Fleming, 354th CES section chief of pavements and construction equipment. "We have a few projects planned this summer for construction, but our main project is going to be building an extended parking lot for people here supporting RED FLAG-Alaska."

From all the wear and tear the base endured during the long winter, the Dirt Boyz only have a few months before the snow starts again. They focus on areas that need the most work, all while keeping next winter in mind.

"Every year, the snow removal equipment needs to be turned in for summer rebuild, which means we have to clean up around 35 pieces of equipment and it takes a huge effort to wash all the grime from this past winter," said William Ferenc, 354th CES engineering equipment operator supervisor. "After the crews are finished cleaning them, it goes to the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron for vehicle maintenance so when winter hits next season, we get the vehicles back in tip-top shape."

Street sweepers, water trucks and hand brooms are just some of the many tools Dirt Boyz use to make sure all of the streets, even the roads less traveled, are kept clear of sand and pebbles.

"The gravel and sand we laid down over the winter becomes a hazard for windshields and motorcyclists," said Ferenc. "We have to make sure we clean all that up so everyone can move around safely."

Pesky potholes also become a problem now that winter is over and the Dirt Boyz have a hand in filling those as well.

"When water gets into a pothole, the pavement gets softer and it expands and ruins the road," said Ferenc. "We have to keep our Airmen and their families safe and if we take care of the pothole when it's small we spend less money when fixing it and save damage to vehicles."

Along with the snow melting, the risk of floods from water becomes an issue, potentially causing damage to base structures if not taken care of in a timely manner.

"Every year, some of the channels are frozen and when they thaw out certain areas won't drain very well," said Ferenc. "Our job is to pump water from one section to another to avoid the chance of a flood. To maintain flood control, we had a bunch of water pumps throughout base pumping water from one section to another."

The Dirt Boyz will be working year-round regardless of season, temperatures and weather conditions.

"We work really hard in the winter when it's 24 hours, seven days a week. These guys have to be here to allow everyone else to get to work safely," said Fleming. "Although we aren't working 24 hours a day right now, we always have somebody on stand-by and will respond to any situation where the Dirt Boyz are needed."

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