HVAC-R keeps Osan cool

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- At the end of the work day, most members of the Osan Air Base community want to relax. However, if an air conditioning unit or heater breaks, members would have to endure endlessly sweating in blistering humid summer heat or would need to bundle up with many layers of clothing to avoid bone-chilling winters.

The 51st Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air condition and refrigeration shop ensures that the members of the Osan community remain comfortable within their homes and shops. They work to make sure the air in the 4,000 plus dorm rooms are at the right temperature while also making sure vital mission equipment does not over heat.

HVAC-R is in charge of providing equipment cooling to equipment within server rooms and comfort cooling for dorm rooms, on-base family housing, and other community building such as the Commissary and Base Exchange. They maintain air conditioners, boilers, and chillers by replacing old parts and making sure current parts work properly. They clean and service the cooling and heating equipment as well.

"HVAC's mission is to support every other mission on Osan Air base," said Master Sgt. Octavius Smalls, 51st CES NCO in charge of HVAC-R. "HVAC has a wide variety of tasks that we have to complete ranging from dorm rooms for comfort cooling all the way to mission support for keeping the planes in the air."

During the day they work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. but also have a two person team on standby for after hour calls.

HVAC-R Airmen said they handle after duty calls like any other job.

"You have to know when you get the phone you have to be ready to take the call no matter what time of the night it is," said Senior Airman Steven Williams, 51st CES HVAC-R journeyman.

Senior Airman Chaz Wilson, 51st CES HVAC-R journeyman explains his after duty experience.

"We get calls between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. in the morning and...even if it's not an emergency we go on the call because it's the sacrifice we make to see the customer happy," said Wilson.

On average the HVAC-R shop can receive 500 to 1,000 work orders each month. They work around the clock responding to air conditioners not working, hot water in the dorms going out, and even calls for cool air for computer server rooms.

"If we don't get to your job in the time that you want us to we are not just putting it aside...  We are doing our best to get to everybody," said Williams.

Team work is a big part of making sure the shop is able it complete each task that comes their way. The members of the shop work in two or more person teams to complete each task.

"Everybody is a team player and my teammates are working hard which makes me want to work just as hard," said Wilson.

HVAC members feel they make a difference for the base community and said it's a rewarding job when the customer is happy.

"I'd rather get a handshake and a thank you from my boss than an award because it's my job and it's what I get paid to do," said Wilson. "Just being able to put a smile on a customer face is the best part of the job."