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Fueling McChord’s mission: LRS compliance, environmental section works to keep Airmen, environment safe

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, checks the seal on a manhole on the catwalk of an R-11 fuel truck servicing vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, checks the seal on a manhole on the catwalk of an R-11 fuel truck servicing vehicle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Greg Carrow, left, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, both from the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron inspect a fuel spill response kit to insure Airmen have inventoried and properly stored items needed in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Greg Carrow, left, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, both from the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron inspect a fuel spill response kit to insure Airmen have inventoried and properly stored items needed in the event of an emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Greg Carrow, left, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, both from the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, carefully examine a hydrant coupler attached to an R-11 fuel truck servicing vehicle during a routine spot check. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Tech. Sgt. Greg Carrow, left, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, both from the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, carefully examine a hydrant coupler attached to an R-11 fuel truck servicing vehicle during a routine spot check. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Senior Airman Bradley Zink, a 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel distribution operator, inspects a refueling hose for cuts and leaks during a routine equipment check. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Senior Airman Bradley Zink, a 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel distribution operator, inspects a refueling hose for cuts and leaks during a routine equipment check. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- While fuel is the life blood that makes each aircraft, truck and support vehicle stay running in support of the mission, it can also be a toxic, flammable substance that can pose a threat to Airmen, infrastructure and the local environment. 

Airmen from the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron's compliance and environmental section make sure that threat never materializes. 

"Since we're the biggest handler of hazardous materials on base, we try to maintain the equipment, land and people," said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Carrow, 62nd LRS. 

Using the Air Force Instruction that specifically governs fuels as a guide, the compliance and environmental section's Airmen keep a close eye on the testing process the fuel samples pulled from the pipeline are put through, said Sergeant Carrow. 

They also check to make sure each sample meets a specific chemical makeup as outlined in the Defense Energy Support Center contract with the fuel supplier, U.S. Oil and Refining. 

The section not only checks the jet fuel used on base, but also diesel and automobile fuel, Sergeant Carrow said. 

Careful attention also goes into checking each piece of equipment in the fleet that pumps the fuel. 

Hydrant trucks pump nearly 1,200 gallons per minute, while tanker trucks can pump 600 gallons per minute. 

With that much fuel being moved from one object to another on a routine basis, the filters in the equipment are analyzed weekly, Sergeant Carrow said. 

The trucks and equipment are also checked for leaks. 

The checks may include no-notice spot inspections to see if everyone is following the correct procedures, he said. 

"We go out and make sure Airmen are being safe while they're doing their jobs, and if they're getting the correct results for what they're doing," Sergeant Carrow said. 

"We try to focus on showing what they can improve on." 

If a spill does occur, the section is quick to make sure the environment and local habitat is protected, said Staff Sgt. Joseph Pinkham, 62nd LRS. 

Any type of spill over four gallons requires the section to generate a fuel spill report, he said. 

"We have to ask, 'Where does it go and does it have a storm drain or does it go into an oil and water separator?'" Sergeant Pinkham said. 

Detailed maps of where all the water drains end up help the compliance and environmental section Airmen determine where to conduct tests and cleanup efforts for hazardous materials that may end up in the water, Sergeant Pinkham said. 

The section also puts a significant amount of effort into training Airmen on how to contain a spill and what equipment to use should it ever happen, he said. 

"We not only have to abide by Air Force rules, but also state and federal Environmental Protection Agency rules when it comes to the environment," Sergeant Carrow said.