MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
Airmen from the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron often brave hazardous situations when accomplishing seemingly-simple tasks such as changing a light bulb, 50 feet in the air.
The 5th CES electrical shop performs these type of tasks to help maintain electrical systems for various locations around Minot Air Force base.
“There are a lot of aspects to the mission that wouldn’t be able to get done without electricity,” said Senior Airman Todd Pitsch, 5th CES electrical systems journeyman.
Covering a large area within the installation, the 5th CES electric shop is composed of six sections including exterior and interior lighting, fire alarm teams, cathodic and lighting protection and airfield lighting teams.
These six sections help divide and organize the work load on Airmen assigned to the electric shop.
The exterior section maintains the buildings’ and parking lot lights, head bolt heaters and the Weapons Storage Area’s electrical grid. The interior section repairs electrical circuits, such as bad ballasts, malfunctioning breakers, bad wiring, and tripped circuits.
Fire alarm section, is responsible for installing and testing fire alarms around the base. The cathodic protection section prevents rust degradation to underground systems at the Missile Alert Facilities and other buildings on base.
To ensure the missile and bomber wings continue their daily mission, the shop works 24/7 and are always available to repair and electrical equipment.
The two other sections include the lighting protections and airfield maintainance. The lighting protection section prevents lightning strikes to buildings using rods to redirect electricity. While the airfield lighting maintains and repairs airfield lights, they replace bad-light fixtures and all broken signs on the airfield, their mission helps guide the B-52H Stratofortress pilots during takeoff and landing.
These shops are major players in providing power to approximately 300 buildings on base.
“We support the mission through preventative maintenance and upgrading current electrical systems,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Smith, 5th CES electrical systems craftsman.
According to Smith, who has been stationed at Minot for eight years, one of the biggest things they accomplish are interior and exterior electrical systems. From garage doors to light fixtures, fire alarm systems, the Weapons Storage Area, the airfield and more.
“The electric shop receives job taskings from facility managers and prioritizes them based on what’s mission essential,” said Smith. “Additionally, teams go out to a MAF to accomplish weekly maintenance.”
In addition to job taskings and weekly maintenance the 5th CES electrical shop makes sure the whole base has power.
“We cover the whole base and more,” said Smith. “We supply power from the substation all the way down to your desks and everywhere in-between.”
Being an electrician can be a hazardous job. To ensure safety, the 5th CES electric shop always sends out two Airmen to complete all work requests.
“The risks of this job can range from electrocution, shocks, electrical burns and potential arc blasts,” said Smith.” “We follow the Wingman concept to prevent an Airman from getting hurt.”
Despite the risks they face daily, Pitsch finds satisfaction in the problem solving of electrical work.
“I love being an electrician,” said Pitsch.” “Looking at something that other people don’t understand, without prior knowledge, and being able to troubleshoot and repair it fills me with pride.”