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Robins prepared for winter weather

ROBINS AFB, Ga. -- Though cold weather has been a rarity this winter, Robins officials have seen the wrath of Mother Nature's freezing temperatures twice.

"We have had two events this year where we had freezes that could have cost the government a lot of money," said Paul Kelley, 78th Civil Engineer Squadron operations chief. "The real key is we had two situations where systems failed and there was damage."

The first event was in Bldg. 640 where some pipes froze in a clean room and the second was in Bldg. 301 where a chilled water coil burst in an air handler on the roof, which flooded the floors in some areas of the building.

Mr. Kelley said these two events are examples of why it is so important for Robins to have a winterization plan in place.

"In Bldg. 640 it had the potential to result in millions of dollars of damage to equipment, but fortunately CE and folks in Bldg. 640 responded quickly and there was only about $1,200 in damage," Mr. Kelley said.

The situation in Bldg. 301 resulted in larger damages because the water problems revealed asbestos tile under the carpet of the flooded floors.

"We don't have a final estimate, but it will be in excess of $200,000 in repairs," Mr. Kelley said. "We have people that are still unable to return to their workplace. We are working in conjunction with folks in DMAG (Depot Maintenance Activity Group) to perform ORM (Operational Risk Management) on all the critical areas to ensure it doesn't happen again."

The winterization plan procedures are important, Mr. Kelley said, because as the Air Force continues to tighten its financial belt, any repairs are made with money Robins doesn't have.

Facility managers at Robins are responsible for different preventive measures based on the degree of the freezing temperatures.

The winterization plan has two phases: phase 1 is when temperatures are forecasted to be below 25 degrees for four or more hours and phase 2 is when temperatures are forecasted to be below 15 degrees for four or more hours.

In phase 1, managers identify areas that need portable heating devices, inspect exterior of buildings to ensure windows, doors and other openings are secure and shut down and drain irrigation systems. Phase 2 goes through all phase 1 procedures and provides 24 hours a day, seven days a week surveillance and repair operations.

Along with the phase 1 and phase 2 guidelines for facility managers, there are also annual procedures done each October to prepare Robins facilities for freezing temperatures.

Some of the annual preparations done in October each year are ensuring heating systems are cleaned, serviced and functionally tested, and identifying systems that need additional attention to prevent damage from freezing temperatures.

However, base residents and personnel should report any area that could result in damage during winter conditions, he said.

"If they have a problem with their facility call customer service," Mr. Kelley said. "If something is not working don't leave it for someone else."

Some steps personnel can take to keep winter weather from causing more damage to the base are to call CE customer service to report any malfunctions with heating systems and make sure all openings such as doors and windows are securely closed.

Those who live in base housing should leave thermostats at 55 degrees if leaving the house unattended, disconnect all outside water hoses and leave all water faucets dripping and leave cabinets open beneath sinks. If water pipes burst, immediately shut-off the water valve located in the furnace room and call the MFH contractor to report the problem.