PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The winter months bring seasonal festivities and cold blustery snow days, but also unsafe driving conditions. When it snows on Peterson Air Force Base, the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron’s “Dirt Boyz” will clear the snow and salt the roadways to ensure the day’s mission can be accomplished safely.
Snow season for Peterson AFB runs from Sept. 1 – May 31. During this timeframe, some 21st CES personnel are relieved of their normal military duties and assigned to snow removal crews. Snow removal teams consist of two crews working 12-hour shifts. Snow removal personnel are placed in an essential duty status and are subject to recall during adverse weather conditions. The significance of these teams, and the lessons learned throughout the season, influence safety policies, delayed reporting procedures and base closures, said Master Sgt. Jason Lilley, 21st CES non-commissioned officer in charge of pavements and equipment.
“It is critical to the Peterson mission that the base roadways, parking lots and thoroughfares are continuously maintained,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Born, 21st CES heavy equipment craftsman. “Our efforts ensure multinational and joint operational command plans aren’t hampered, and safe driving conditions are maintained during inclement weather conditions.”
Priority mission areas for snow removal are the Peterson airfield apron, access to taxiways, aircraft rescue and firefighting lanes, and all access gates to Peterson AFB.
The “Dirt Boyz” is a widely used nickname adopted by Air Force Civil Engineering organizations that applies to the Airmen that work construction and operate heavy machinery including dump trucks, bulldozers, road grinders, excavators and front end loaders. Often times working in extreme weather and for extended duty hours, these Airmen maintain the roadways year-round. “Dirt Boyz” not only work in any seasonal environmental condition, they are also trained to work in combat conditions.
“Dirt Boyz” use multi-purpose snow plow trucks with a front-end plow to move the snow to the shoulder of the road. The trucks also have accessories that aid in snow removal, including a snow blower attachment, a kick broom, and a sand spreader that spreads a mixture of magnesium chloride and sand on the ground. This mixture melts the remaining snow and ice that the plow doesn’t initially remove. The grit of the sand provides added traction to tires reducing slippage and increasing safety on the roadways, said Born.
“The most rewarding aspect of this job is gaining a sense of accomplishment of doing something significant that impacts the 21st CES mission,” said Lilley. “The dedication of the ‘Dirt Boyz’ crews is rock solid; they answer the call regardless of the weather conditions or the tasks asked of them.”
For more information regarding delayed reporting or base closures, call 719-556-SNOW.