The 773d Civil Engineer Squadron conducts the annual Snow and Ice Parade at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 4, 2018. Regardless of the amount of snowfall, the snow barn works to keep the runways and roads clear and ready for emergency missions 24/7. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell)
A Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson family waves at a passing snow-removal vehicle during the annual Snow and Ice Parade at JBER, Alaska, Oct. 4, 2018. The 773d Civil Engineer Squadron snow barn hosts the event to signal the coming of winter. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christian Castaneda-Magana, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance operator, pulls bristles onto a broom at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 4, 2018. The 773d CES snow barn personnel prepare for the coming winter by reviewing and installing new equipment, attending safety briefings and participating in the Snow and Ice Parade. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Shane Leaphart, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron engineer assistant, unloads a dump truck at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 3, 2018. The 773d CES snow barn personnel train augmentees on properly operating snow-removal equipment, in preparation for the coming winter. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Isaiah Torres, 773d Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and construction operator, explains the proper methods of unloading a dump truck to Airman 1st Class Shane Leaphart, 773d CES engineer assistant, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Oct. 3, 2018. The 773d CES snow barn personnel train augmentees on properly operating snow-removal equipment, in preparation for the coming winter. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell)
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The mountains are topped with snow, signaling the end of summer and the coming of winter. As another winter gears up, so do personnel with the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron snow barn.
Beginning in October, the heavy equipment shop transforms into the snow barn and starts their non-stop operations. While most people are sleeping, the snow removal team is out making the base as safe as possible.
“The heavy equipment shop, or snow barn in the winter, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Dennis Sessler, 773d CES pavements and equipment manager. “We work through the holidays, all the family days and everything. We don’t take any days off.”
To prepare for the snowy roads ahead, snow barn personnel implement several attack plans. One of those being “Snow School,” that trains and prepares Airmen for the coming season.
“Personnel review equipment, attend safety briefings and participate in the annual Snow and Ice Parade,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Herschbach, 773d CES pavements and construction equipment operator. “Preparation for snow season never really stops, especially since equipment is always being repaired.”
Operators use an array of equipment to complete their job, on the airfield and on the streets.
“When we’re on the airfield, we use brooms, blowers, plows and vehicles that apply chemicals to the airfield surface,” Herschbach said. “On the roads, we operate graders, loader, dump trucks and sand trucks.”
While on the streets, Herschbach recommends drivers maintain a 75-foot clearance from all snow-removal equipment, yield the right-of-way to snow-removal equipment and slow down and drive according to road conditions.
In order to expedite snow removal operations, people should pick up or remove debris around base facilities and parking areas which could impede or damage snow-removal equipment.
Before using unit-owned plows, facility managers must contact the snow barn for instructions on how to plow, snow removal strategies and where to stockpile snow.
"People need to have situational awareness when they see snow removal equipment," Sessler said.
Upon requesting snow removal operations, facility mangers need to post parking lots as closed. Parking lots with vehicles left in them may not be cleared of snow to avoid potential accidents.
Personnel going on temporary duty should park in long-term or deployment parking areas and make arrangements to have their vehicles moved as needed throughout the winter.
For more information regarding snow removal contact the snow barn at 552-3726.