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173FW vehicle maintenance Airmen key part of firefighting effort

173rd FW Vehicle Maintenance

U.S. Air Force Airman Basic Adrian Alvarez, the newest member of the 173rd Fighter Wing vehicle maintenance team, puts his recently learned skills from technical training school to use at the Roseburg, Ore. Armory, where a team of Airmen were deployed to help manage traffic on wildland fires burning in local forests, Sept. 20, 2020. Six vehicles required repairs including this one which suffered a screw puncture and required a new tire. (Courtesy Photo)

173rd FW Vehicle Maintenance

U.S. Air Force Airman Basic Adrian Alvarez, the newest member of the 173rd Fighter Wing vehicle maintenance team, diagnoses a check air bag warning light on a fleet vehicle used for wildland fire relief efforts in Roseburg, Ore., Sept. 20, 2020. The team of Airmen were conducting traffic control for local wildland fires making working vehicles a critical piece in their mission necessitating the repairs as soon as possible. (Courtesy Photo)

173rd FW Vehicle Maintenance

U.S. Air Force Airman Basic Adrian Alvarez, the newest member of the 173rd Fighter Wing vehicle maintenance team, puts his recently learned skills from technical training school to use at the Roseburg, Ore. Armory, where a team of Airmen were deployed to help manage traffic on wildland fires burning in local forests, Sept. 20, 2020. Six vehicles required repairs, including this one which suffered a screw puncture and required a new tire. (Courtesy Photo)

173rd FW Vehicle Maintenance

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Luke Ovgard, 173rd Medical Group, accounts for each individual and vehicle as they leave the base a convoy to Grants Pass, Oregon from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon September 15, 2020. Fifty additional Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing were tasked with traffic control point management in areas affected by wildfires that have devestated the state of Oregon. 119 Airmen from the 173rd FW answered the call to State Active Duty by the Governor to assist with wildfire response. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

173rd FW Vehicle Maintenance

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. James Childs, 173rd Mission Support Group, accounts for each individual and vehicle as they leave the base a convoy to Grants Pass, Oregon from Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon September 15, 2020. Fifty additional Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing were tasked with traffic control point management in areas affected by wildfires that have devestated the state of Oregon. 119 Airmen from the 173rd FW answered the call to State Active Duty by the Governor to assist with wildfire response. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

The 173rd Fighter Wing supplied more than 100 Airmen comprising four teams to help battle the worst wildfire season on record, in mid-September.

When the request for help from the Governor arrived one of the challenges was supplying enough vehicles to ferry the Airmen around the state to the hardest hit areas.

“The call was for 50 vehicles as soon as possible,” said Master Sgt. James Childs, the fleet manager for the 173rd Fighter Wing. “From the time that call came in, I was making phone calls within 15 minutes and we had the 32 vehicles delivered to vehicle maintenance within probably an hour-and-a-half.” 

Those 32 vehicles represented every available vehicle, short of the bare necessity to continue the flying training mission said Childs, who worked with offices around the base to identify cars and trucks.

It is also required that these vehicles get a thorough inspection prior to the lengthy road trip, and each one did prior to delivery less than two hours after the initial request.

Another aspect of deploying these vehicles around the state, is taking care of them when the inevitable maintenance issues arise.

Master Sgt. John Walling, the vehicle maintenance floor supervisor, made several trips to the team based in Roseburg who were manning traffic control points to fix minor but important issues on six different vehicles. He said it provided a really good learning experience for the most junior member of the vehicle maintenance team, Airman Basic Adrian Alvarez.

“It was real nice, especially having a younger Airmen who just got back from tech school,” Walling said. “We were able to sign him off on some training tasks so it was perfect timing—of course we could have done without the fires.”

The list of repairs included fixing truck radio power supplies, several flat tires from a screw and bad valve stem, and diagnosing several check engine and check airbag lights.

For the Roseburg team having operational vehicles was critical to their mission.

“These vehicles are being used for traffic control duties at control points,” said Childs. “So in a way, our vehicles are just as important as the members who drove them out of here.”

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