By Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
When the roads are impassable and late reporting is imminent, there is an elite group of Team Schriever members who tackle the icy conditions to ensure the mission continues.
Though the group is small, their mission is critical to every member on Schriever. It’s the members of the 50th Civil Engineer Squadron pavements and equipment shop who make sure the roads are clear so that Team Schriever members can safely travel on base.
The snow removal team is tasked with the large job of clearing all roads and parking lots on base. The 14-member team uses a pre-set, priority level system which determines which roads and parking lots are cleared first.
“When we are in snow operations, we have a set route and sector around base that each person is responsible for clearing,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Brown, 50 CES. “It does not matter when the snow falls, we go to 24-hour manning during snow operations.”
Before the snow even begins to fall, the members of the pavement and equipment shop are busy training the augmentees who will assist throughout the snow season. Augmentees are volunteers from throughout the civil engineer squadron who have completed the required training to familiarize themselves with equipment and routes.
“We spend a week making sure our augmentees have the snow removal process down,” said Sergeant Brown.
During training, augmentees learn how to operate each vehicle safely and efficiently, as well as, learn how to safetly handle the chemicals involved with the snow removal process.
“When clearing (the snow) we put a salt-like chemical down to help keep ice from bonding to pavement surfaces,” said Sergeant Brown.
For the augmentees the training helps members get more comfortable with the duties they have volunteered to perform.
“I was really nervous the first time,” said Senior Airman Joe Zupke, a 50 CES electrician and three-time snow removal augmentee. “I usually work the night shift and clearing snow on base at night is completely different from the day time. A lot of things on base look completely different in the dark. The training we received going over the routes and pointing out any base changes really helped.”
To Sergeant Brown’s snow removal team, safety is paramount during the entire process. He asks of the Schriever public to watch out for the snow removal equipment on the road.
“We are usually driving some pretty large vehicles,” he said. “We are trying to get these roads clear. Most times, drivers are safer behind us than in front of us.”
Sergeant Brown also mentioned other ways drivers could assist with the process.
“Scattered parking is something people usually don’t think about but it does make the snow removal process in parking lots a challenge,” said Sergeant Brown.
Scattered parking refers to parking lots that have cars scattered throughout the parking lot instead of grouped together.
No matter the challenges, the primary snow removal team members and the augmentees enjoy what they do.
“Plowing snow is fun,” Sergeant Brown said. “It’s instant gratification. I can see what I’m doing makes it possible for everyone to get to work safely.”
“This is my third season as an augmentee,” said Airman Zupke. “I like doing it. It’s a huge sense of accomplishment. I’m helping keep people safe.”
Their enthusiasm and dedication does not go unnoticed.
“This small group works extremely hard throughout the snow season,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Williams, 50 CES commander. “Many times, when most of the base is still in bed, the snow removal guys are out clearing the roads. They are out 24 hours a day in snow operations keeping the roads clear so the mission at Schriever continues without delay.”