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LRS prepares for fire season

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Tom Barcinas, a 30th Logistical Readiness Squadron heavy vehicle mechanic, teaches Senior Airman Arturo Vega, a 30th LRS heavy vehicle mechanic, how to operate an air conditioning recharging unit here April 16. Air conditioning units are a vital part of the bulldozers the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron uses to prevent the spread of wildfires. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Tom Barcinas, a 30th Logistical Readiness Squadron heavy vehicle mechanic, teaches Senior Airman Arturo Vega, a 30th LRS heavy vehicle mechanic, how to operate an air conditioning recharging unit here April 16. Air conditioning units are a vital part of the bulldozers the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron uses to prevent the spread of wildfires. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 30th Logistical Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance section here is putting the finishing touches on the annual maintenance of the 30th Civil Engineering Squadron's fire prevention vehicles and projects in order to have all of the vehicles ready by April 30 for California's upcoming wildfire season.

Fire season begins on the Central Coast during the spring season when there is less than two inches of monthly precipitation.

"We have a base mutual aid agreement with the state of California to provide our vehicles and equipment in support of fire departments across the state," said Staff Sgt. Dennis Berry Jr., the 30th LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of the vehicle maintenance section. "The agreement also states that we can call upon the state of California in event of an emergency when all of our equipment is tasked out elsewhere."

The 30th LRS vehicle maintenance section primarily works on vehicles and equipment of a heavier variety: street sweepers, tractors, trailers, dump trucks, bulldozers and fire trucks.

"We prepare all of the vehicles to be ready for any situation," Sergeant Berry said. "For instance, when we prepare for fire season we use a special type of hydraulic fluid in the bulldozers to lessen the chance of combustion around fires. We also check to make sure the fire resistant curtains in the cab and air conditioning units are working properly on the bulldozers before releasing them for use."

The bulldozers are used by the 30th CES to ward off the spread of wildfires. Trenches are dug around the perimeter of a fire in order to keep it from spreading.

The Airmen of the 30th LRS are responsible for most of the physical vehicle maintenance work within their shop.

"The role of the Airmen in the vehicle maintenance section is important because it's the Airmen who are working directly on the vehicles," said Senior Airman Arturo Vega, a 30th LRS vehicle mechanic. "If there is ever a situation that arises where the vehicles we work on are needed, we make sure that they are mission ready."

The vehicle maintenance section is not just composed of a military work force; civilians also play a large role in the Air Force mission.

"Our civilians make it happen," said Sergeant Berry. "Our civilians have been here the longest and they are our experts. They know the vehicles by heart, and they do a great job mentoring us on them."

The team of Airmen and civilians perform a lot of behind-the-scenes work to ensure Vandenberg's vehicles are mission ready.

"A lot of people don't realize how we support the Air Force mission," Sergeant Berry said. "If we are not taking care of these vehicles properly and making sure that they get back to their units in a timely manner, the vehicles are not being utilized. Our job does not get a whole lot of visibility, but the base would not be able to operate the way it does now without us."