The light in the darkest hour

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Every time a light turns on, microwaves are used or a refrigerator door is opened, the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical shop receives the honor of ensuring these daily uses occur without problem.

The electrical crew is hard at work making sure the installation can function and Airmen enjoy their household luxuries. With dedication and valor, they proudly shine a light over Whiteman's shadow.

The electrical shop has the important of job of ensuring every facility has base power and is able perform.

"We provide direct support for the flying mission and support agencies by providing electrical power and life safety," said Staff Sgt. Cameron Kessinger, 509th CES electrical systems supervisor. "The hangars cannot operate without power and electricity."

The electrical shop maintains the flow of electricity through each facility.
"We install switches around the base to ensure the flow of electricity is maintained through every shop," said Kessinger. "Sometimes, when an underground cable is damaged from lightning strikes or someone cutting them, we will splice and repair the circuit."

The electrical shop has different areas they cover within the unit. They have their own fire alarm shop which is called the fire alarm suppression team (FAST), an exterior crew and an interior crew called "do it now" (DIN).

"The FAST shop deals with all the fire alarms and suppression systems on base," said Airman 1st Class Robert Rodriguez, 509th CES electrical systems apprentice. "Every facility on base has a Monico system, which is a transceiver and receiver. It sends a message to a central computer and tells us if the system has been activated or damaged. The fire alarm shop responds to calls just the same as the fire department."

The DIN crew handles all jobs that require a quick response. For example, if a facility has a power outage, the DIN crew will receive the call via radio to head to the facility to fix the problem. The interior crew also deals with light fixtures, wall outlets, breaker panels, lights and indoor lighting boxes.

"The installation receives 13 kilovolts into the electrical shop's sub stations from Kansas City Power and Light," said Kessinger. "The exterior crew, in turn, distributes that high voltage around the base. Each service entrance to a facility, we step it down with a transformer varying upon customer and equipment needs. Transformers come in different sizes depending on the power requirements."

The exterior crew also handles backfeeding, which is a process used to generate power to facilities through an alternative power source, without using the dead circuit.

The direct support the electrical shop provides requires the team to pay close attention to detail and provide quality work.

"Quality means making sure each wire is in the right place and ensuring every aspect of the job is successfully completed," said Kessinger. "If any piece of equipment is installed inaccurately or incorrectly maintained, it could make that equipment defective and delay the facility's mission."

The electric shop uses a wide variety of materials to accomplish their tasks such as tape, trenchers and much more.

"A lot of our tools are specialized equipment," said Kessinger. "We rely heavily on equipment to complete all our tasks. With each task, we must ensure our safety is taken into account. This means donning the proper equipment before dealing with anything electrical. We have a very hazardous job and must take into consideration on how to effectively accomplish task without anyone getting injured."

Being an electrician can be a very risky task, but these dedicated Airmen are willing to step up to the challenge, day in and day out.

"Before I joined the Air Force, I had misconceptions about being an electrician," said Kessinger. "Electricity is a dangerous thing and beforehand, I wouldn't even deal with an outlet. I didn't know how to control it, but being in the military taught me a lot. It's incredible to be able to take something so powerful, and bend it to our will. We have the knowledge and the equipment to get the job done."

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