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During snowfall the 375th CES works non-stop to clear the flightline and roads on base
Mr. Randy McGeehan, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, plows snow on the flightline Jan. 11, 2011, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The 375th CES has a dedicated crew that works constantly on the flightline, starting with the Mid-America Airport side and then moving to the Scott side. (U.S. Air Force Photo/ Senior Airman Amber R. Kelly-Herard)
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During snowfall the 375th CES works non-stop to clear the flightline and roads on base

Posted 1/19/2011   Updated 1/19/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Amber R. Kelly-Herard
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

1/19/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- When snow falls at Scott Air Force Base, there's a squadron that works constantly prior to, during and well after the initial snow fall.

The 375th Civil Engineer Squadron begins preparing for the winter season as early as August.

In preparation for the season, all new personnel complete a 40-hour class and all other personnel complete an 8-hour refresher course. The course covers operation and maintenance of every piece of equipment, potential hazards, and where to push the snow. The course also consists of a dry run of the routes.

Airmen are also given special licenses to drive the snow equipment during the class.

"Some of the dangers of snow plowing are curved lanes, ditches, covered man holes, parked cars and drains," said Dale Zink, 375th CES structures heavy equipment foreman.

Crews are then selected for the airfield and streets. Airmen are selected from across the 375th CES to help clear snow.

"Snow plowing takes priority over all other jobs for us," said 2nd Lt. Jaffet Ferrer-Torres, 375th CES programmer. "Of course, if there's an emergency, then that will also be taken care of."

This year there are 65 Airmen on night shift and 83 Airmen to include civilians on day shift. These Airmen work 12-hour shifts every day there is snow to be plowed. Only 10 percent of Airmen on snow duty are allowed to take leave at any given time to maintain their force.

Additionally, contractors are also employed to help with the winter weather efforts.

The squadron works continuously with the 375th Operations Support Squadron's weather flight to stay updated on incoming weather systems and snowfall.

Once the snow falls, the airfield crew starts with Mid-America Airport and works its way to the base-side of the flightline. The crews are also divided into east and west sides of the flightline. The flightline continues to be swept after it is initially plowed until there is too much snow and a plow is needed again.

For the street crews, the main roads take first priority, followed by other roads and parking lots.

The 375th CES is also in charge of all their vehicles used for the snow. For the airfield alone, the squadron designates six snow blowers, six sweepers, two broom trucks, one deicer truck and one Epoke truck for solid deicer. For the remainder of the base, the squadron has nine snow plows, two loaders, three backhoes, three farm tractors with brooms, three bobcats, one tool cat, two graders and about 35 mules and gators with blades.

"It is an ongoing cause, especially when you factor in the snow and ice and the temperatures, or when to use salt or not," said Lieutenant Ferrer-Torres.

To date, more than 14,000 gallons of liquid deicer and 35,000 gallons of solid deicer have been used on the flightline alone. More than 150 tons of salt have been used for the whole base during this winter season.

The 375th CES covers the entire base to include the main road in Patriots Landing. The remainder of Patriots Landing and other base housing areas are maintained by privatized housing.

Building managers are responsible for the immediate areas outside of each workplace.
"It's a busy job, but it's thrilling to help the base population get to work safely," said Lieutenant Ferrer-Torres.

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