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Getting down and dirty in Fairchild

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Hull
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Citizen Airmen of the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron, water and fuels maintenance section, traveled to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., in August where they descended into a 4,000 gallon fuel tank for cleaning and inspection.

The tank cleanup, which had not been cleaned or inspected for 15 years, provided for a rare training opportunity, which allowed for CES personnel to gain valuable knowledge and experience.

“It was a little tricky at first because the tank could only be cleaned in good weather,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Wright, 446th CES operations flight superintendent. “The outside temperature had to be above and below a certain ambient temperature. Once the time for good weather was figured out, we got the process rolling.”

According to the trip report, a total of 25 gallons of fuel was pumped from the tank and disposed of properly. In addition, several pounds of sludge and residual contaminates were removed from the tank. This allowed for the installation of a new cathodic protection system, ensuring the fuel tank will resist corrosion, making it last longer.

Because of the opportunity to clean and inspect the fuel tank, the 446th CES Airmen that participated in the training will be eligible to attend the Air Force Fuels Tank Entry Supervisor Course, said Wright. This will allow the squadron to build a specialized fuel tank cleaning team – one of the only specialized teams of its kind in the Air Force Reserve.

During the project, Rainier Wing Airmen received 64 hours of training and provided 96 hours of labor in the confined space of the fuel tank.

“The training was a complete success,” said Wright. “It also allowed us to build good relationships with individuals at Fairchild for future opportunities.”