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The Keymaster

  • Published
  • By Monte Miller
  • 375th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
There are hundreds of buildings on Scott. Inside those buildings are hundreds of locks and one man holds the key.

Staff Sgt. Norman Fabregat-LeBlanc, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron structural craftsman, is responsible for all of the locks on every door on the entire base.

"Locksmithing is just another part of our career field," Sergeant LeBlanc said. "We do carpentry, welding, even concrete work. Everything to do with the structure of the building, we do it start to finish."

Sergeant LeBlanc said he has always had an interest in carpentry, but thought locksmithing would be something different and interesting to try, so he volunteered for the duty.

"It's really a specialty that they don't teach in school," he said. "All of the training is on the job. When I started they said here's your bag of tools, go fix these locks. When you get done with a job it gives you a lot of satisfaction."

Another perk of the job, especially with the cold winter months coming on, is getting to work inside and he added he likes working alone and at his own pace.

Although working alone has benefits, he admits it can also be tough when a challenging project comes up. He is the one that has to solve the problem and get the job done on his own, which also gives him a sense of pride.

Sergeant Leblanc estimates there are hundreds of thousands of locks on base and he works on an average of about 10 jobs per day depending on the size of the project, which can range from a simple key replacement to the installation of complicated electronic locks for secured facilities.

"It's fun to figure that stuff out," he said. "The most challenging building on base is Building P-40. There are so many people, so many doors and everybody wants different locks."

In addition to physically installing or replacing locks, Sergeant LeBlanc, along with his locksmithing mentor Melvin Griffin, also make cores for all of the locks. A detailed computer database of all buildings on base assists the men with these tasks. They also cut keys.

For example, a recent job in just one section of a building involved 56 locks.

Currently, Sergeant Leblanc is in the process of updating every lock on base, replacing ones installed in the early 1990's with new cores and or electronics to ensure all areas and facilities are secure.

"We are redoing every building on base with an easier system," he explained. "It should take a couple of years, but could take up to five."

Normally when you think of the 37th CES, you may have visions of heavy equipment and power tools. Suprisingly, the tools of Sergeant Leblanc's trade can fit in his pocket.

"Master keys, core keys and a screwdriver," he said. "It only takes about 30 minutes to change a lock, maybe more if I run into problems. It can take an hour or so to do a whole building."

Sergeant Leblanc has been in the Air Force seven years and has decided to be a career Airman. He did say if he hadn't joined the Air Force, he would have pursued his love for football in his home state of Florida.