DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
At every U.S. Air Force base and installation across the globe, electricity is required to complete the mission successfully. Electrical systems specialists ensure that our primary source of energy is always available.
To support the wide range of mission sets such as satellite communications, launching aircraft and providing care to wounded personnel, electricity is a crucial service provided by these experts.
“We’re responsible with keeping power to the base; we keep everything running from alarms to airfield lighting,” said Staff Sgt. Kaleb Slaughter, 7th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems journeyman. “Like we always say here in our shop, if you don’t have electricity, you’re not lit.”
On a daily basis, electricians perform a multitude of duties around base including installing and maintaining airfield lighting systems as well as setting up and repairing various electrical equipment.
“Every day we’re making sure things are running smoothly at every facility on base, however, our main priority is making sure our planes are able to take off and land whenever they need to,” Slaughter said.
Being an electric systems specialist can be a hazardous job due to the nature of live electricity.
“When we’re starting a task, we always make sure the electrical unit we’re working with is turned off as well as locked so it can’t be switched on while it’s being repaired,” Slaughter explained. “We also wear our personal protective equipment which includes high voltage clothes, a face shield, a hard hat and steel-toed boots.”
For these Airmen, safety is their number one priority, which means ensuring they follow the proper procedures and safety measures.
“The most important part of our job is staying safe,” said Airman 1st Class Marvin Sapp, 7th CES electrical systems apprentice. “I value my life so I always take the proper steps to ensure my safety.”
The possibility of electrocution is not the only threat these Airmen face. With Dyess being in the middle of West Texas, animals and bugs can often be a bigger problem than the electricity they deal with.
Since the electrical units offer a warm hideaway for these creatures, proper precautions must be taken before starting a task.
“We typically work in teams, which allows us to collaborate when checking for animals or bugs,” explained Staff Sgt. Abisai Catalan, 7 CES electrical systems journeyman. “We might have one Airman open up an electrical unit and the other look in to ensure there’s nothing that’s going to jump out at us. We mostly find snakes, venomous spiders, wasps and bees.”
Electrical systems specialists complete an extensive amount of training while in technical school, which lasts approximately 99 class days. During their training, these Airmen learn the basics that their job entails through upgrade training and hands on experience.
“We learn a little bit of what we do while in tech school, but like most other occupations, we tend to learn much more through hands on experience with on-the-job training,” said Slaughter. “Every day I come to work and I learn something new.”
For new Airmen, on-the-job training is vital to career success. For Sapp, working with more seasoned Airmen on an assignment has helped him become better at his profession.
“You really start learning your job once you get to your first duty station and you start preforming certain tasks every day,” explained Sapp. “Being an Airman 1st Class, I always go out with a noncommissioned officer while performing duties so they can supervise me and make sure I’m doing my job correctly as well as answer any questions I have during the process.”
These highly trained Airmen are here to ensure Team Dyess can work efficiently and effectively in a technology based world run by electricity.
If you are experiencing any electrical problems, please do not try to fix anything yourself and leave it to the professionals!