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Dedicated electricians let there be light

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A small group of determined 30th Civil Engineer Squadron electricians recently restored power following a late-afternoon outage here, Jan. 12.

The crews responded to a base wide power outage and isolated the repairs. Primarily affecting base housing, the problem left numerous families in the dark and with the hopes of returning light to the base as-soon-as-possible, the responding CES personnel overcame numerous obstacles.

"A few of the obvious challenges we faced with this situation were the cold temperatures, high-winds and having to work in the dark," said Master Sgt. Ricky Blankenship, 30th CES Electrical Systems Section Chief. "These challenges were faced with the same grit the electrical teams show on a daily basis. Their can-do attitude always ensures a safe and consistent return of power regardless of the conditions."

Faulty line equipment and inclement weather were some of the contributing factors to this particular outage, however the CES electricians are charged with the daunting responsibility of sustaining power on one of the largest instillations in the Air Force.

"My Electrical Section is unmatched across the Air Force with their abilities and technical knowledge," said Blankenship. "The vast area of this installation and the robust electrical grid is maintained by a small number of technicians."

Despite facing precarious working conditions on a regular basis, the team's priority remains returning power to the base population as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"Electricity is very unpredictable," said Staff Sgt. Eloy Rodriguez, 30th CES electrical systems craftsman. "Our number one goal, after safety, is to restore power in the most expedient manner possible. Even though some of our jobs may take minutes and some many hours, we ask people to please try and be patient as we work to complete our task at hand."

Senior Airman Garrett Oats, 30th CES Electrical Systems Journeyman agrees it is important for the community to understand the hard work and perseverance poured into each job.

"With any electrical outage, especially high-voltage, the work that goes into them has to be done right for everyone's safety, including ours," said Oats. "Our job doesn't consist of just flipping a switch to have the lights come on, and when outages do occur we work as fast and safely as possible to get them back on."

In addition to the electricians, Airmen throughout the squadron were integral in repairing the issue.

"It was truly a team effort," said Maj. Casey Bartholomew, 30th CES Operations Flight Commander. "Airmen from CE's Power Production shop also answered the call in order to perform operational checks on the numerous backup generators supporting mission facilities across Vandenberg. The Disaster Control Center controller on-duty, throughout the incident, fielded hundreds of calls and orchestrated a lot of the actions in the field from CE's nerve center."

Blankenship appreciates those who endured the outage, yet emphasizes only a handful of professionals are responsible for electrical maintenance throughout the vastness that is VAFB.

"Thanks for all the support from the families and base personnel who endured the outage," said Blankenship. "The theory remains no one questions when the lights come on, however, everyone notices when they go out, but there is only a small number of dedicated soles who keep the grid in operation to support the families of Vandenberg and its missions."