52 CES ensures base fire suppression systems are ready for action

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ali Stewart
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron’s Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance shop here is entrusted with the task of ensuring base fire suppression systems are ready to go in case of an emergency.

As part of an annual requirement, the base fire department and WFSM shop work together to maintain mission readiness by ensuring over 300 fire hydrants on base are tested for functionality, and replaced if needed.

“Today we are flowing fire hydrants and taking note of their liters per minute,” said Senior Airman Nicolus Kocon, 52nd CES WFSM journeyman. “One hydrant is used to gauge the flow, and we work in conjunction with a second hydrant to measure static and residual pressure.”

Aside from fire suppression systems, the WFSM shop is responsible for operating and maintaining base plumbing systems, water distribution systems, wastewater collection systems, natural gas distribution systems, and fuel distribution systems.

“We are also responsible for the safety of the public during these test procedures,” said Kocon. “It’s also important to ensure future firefighting capabilities for the firefighters here in case of an emergency.”

The shop tests the hydrants in increments throughout the year, moving zone by zone until all valves have been tested.

“The reason we test the hydrants as opposed to the fire department is because we are the subject matter experts on the functionality of the hydrants,” said Kocon. “If a hydrant were to break or something else went wrong, our shop would be responsible for the repairs.”

The fire department on base also performs checks on the hydrants during their routine training exercises and emergency response calls. During each call the ‘plugman’, or firefighter sitting in the back of the truck, will hook their hose up to the nearest hydrant to confirm they have a usable water source.

“These hydrant checks are vital to our department’s operational capability,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Howley, 52nd Fire and Emergency Services Flight NCOIC of fire prevention. “We depend on the WFSM shop to perform routine maintenance on these hydrants across the base so that our crews have water readily available for training and emergency situations.”

The two agencies work together throughout the year to maintain mission readiness for the entirety of Spangdahlem AB. Without operable fire hydrants, there is increased risk for a disaster.

“Water is a tool for us, and if we do not have it we are very limited to what we can do,” said Howley. “Water allows us to make the environment inside a facility more survivable when it is on fire by cooling the rooms and extinguishing flames. If a crew didn’t have that hydrant, rescues could be delayed and damage caused by the fire may not be prevented.”