Cold offices spark space heaters

  • Published
  • By Jason Waggoner
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

With winter temperatures at or near freezing, some 446th Airlift ‘Rainier” Wing offices are slow to warm up in the morning, and personal, portable space heaters are used to offset chilly work spaces.


Winter weather brings up a reminder to follow personal space heater safety regulations and usage guidance. Recently, two portable space heaters within wing units experienced small electrical fires to their electrical cords. While no one was injured and damage to the electrical outlets was minor, the Wing Safety office is looking into the incidents.


Space heater usage in the Air Force is directed by Air Force Instruction 91-203, 6.2.10, Heat Producing Appliances. Among the more noteworthy directives include plugging space heaters directly into a wall receptacle and maintaining a 36 inch minimum distance between the heater and any combustibles.


“Be aware of your cords and their condition,” said Master Sgt. Regina Rector, 446th AW Occupational Safety manager. “Look for any fraying places on the cord where it may have been crushed or dented, or sharp bends which may affect the integrity of the cord.”


Monitoring personal heaters is a safety priority during these cold and damp months.


Rector emphasizes, “Be sure to unplug your heater when not in use and don’t pull it out of the outlet by its cord. It can lead to separation of the cord from the head or create a bend which can lead to a short circuit.”


The maximum allowable temperature in offices, medical facilities, gymnasiums and the Child Development Center is 68 degrees when occupied and 53 degrees when unoccupied, plus or minus two degrees, according to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Regulation 420-1, Installations Facility Energy Management Program.


While there are thermostats on most office walls, Mark Jaques, 446th AW facilities manager, said individual building temperatures are set on computer-controlled timers that are supervised by the JBLM Department of Public Works.


In some offices, temperatures can take several hours to come up to the appropriate levels and Airmen may consider looking for portable personal heaters to compensate; however, a JBLM Personal Heater Waiver Request is required first. The form is just one page and the appropriate justification box needs to be checked. Lengthy explanations or legal reviews are not required. After a local supervisor gives a signature of approval, it is submitted by email to the Director of Public Works.


The JBLM Personal Heater Waiver Request is available from the building facility managers or by calling 253-982-2704. The form also provides additional safety guidance on the use of portable personal heaters to include not using oversized heaters or that the heater is rated at 200 watts or less.