As temperatures rise and the unrelenting humidity of summer rolls into Goldsboro, airmen from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration shop work to beat the heat on base.
The HVAC-R shop works inside hot attics and under the heat of the sun to ensure members across the 4th Fighter Wing can work comfortably and mission essential equipment is kept cool and running.
“We are responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing HVAC-R units that range in all sorts of sizes,” said Staff Sgt. Mitchell Cole, 4th CES HVAC-R technician. “We work across the base, Fort Fisher and Dare County.”
The HVAC-R shop faces many challenges, like manning and funding, especially in the summer months. Despite these challenges, the shop is doing its best to help as many customers as possible.
“We are undermanned, underfunded and underequipped,” said Senior Airman Joje Masaganda, 4th CES HVAC-R technician. “Work orders get racked and stacked so we can work on priority buildings first.”
Cole added that if a work order for the flight simulator comes in, they stop what they’re are doing and work on the higher priority item. Aircrew members need to train, since the base’s mission is flying.
Many of the challenges faced by HVAC-R are made easier by the civilians who work in the shop.
“We really rely on the civilians in our shop,” Cole said. “If it’s a big job and I have been there for hours and I don’t know what to do, I’ll find a civilian and they will take your hand and walk you down the road. A lot of the time we rely on each other.”
A lot of working parts go into making an air conditioning unit operate, but it only takes one thing to cause a malfunction.
“It can take a lot of time to pinpoint where the problem is at and then fix it,” Masaganda said. “We deal with mechanical, electrical and chemicals components in addition to water and fire hazards. Sometimes our customers don’t understand that, they just want their AC fixed, but that isn’t always easy.”
A job can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, added Cole. It’s important that everything is fixed properly the first time. It’s common for the HVAC-R shop to work overtime in order to catch up with work and ensure the base is adequately maintained.
While the job is demanding and uncomfortable, Masaganda said it is also gratifying.
“It’s a creative and fun job,” said Masaganda. “You are working with your hands, figuring out problems and using your brain all day.”
Cole added, it’s a difficult job and every day is different. Fixing broken HVAC-R units is satisfying.