Story by: Pfc. David Christian
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq— Soldiers with the 298th Support Maintenance Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), heating, ventilation and air conditioning repair shop work daily to keep personnel cool in the heat of the Iraqi summer.
The personnel here are working hard and keeping busy because there is a lack of proper preventative maintenance on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the Caiman series of mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. The problem isn’t with the service members, but with the technical manual service members use to maintain their vehicles.
“Properly PMCSing [preventative maintenance checks and services] the air conditioning system isn’t in the TM [technical manual],” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Patrick, the ground support equipment officer-in-charge with the 298th SMC, and a Hollidaysburg, Pa., native. “Operators PMCS their vehicle using the TM, and as operators are not usually mechanics, they use the step-by-step instructions listed on how to check and maintain their vehicle, but nowhere in the TM does it tell them how to clean and maintain the air conditioning unit.”
The biggest problem lies with the cooling fins on the air conditioning unit itself. When the fins are clogged with dust and dirt, they cannot dissipate the heat build–up.
“It’s an easy fix,” said Staff Sgt. Lee Ripka, the HVAC repair shop noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the 298th SMC, and a Rebersburg, Pa., native. “Just once a week, take a low pressure washer and just clean it out. Otherwise the dirt builds up, the heat cannot dissipate and the system malfunctions.”
The knowledge gained by the HVAC technicians has led them to put together a manual themselves, which they sent up their chain of command, and has since become the standard operating procedure for the 3rd Sust. Bde. The Soldiers are also looking to have the manual published in the Preventative Maintenance Magazine (PS Magazine) to get the information out to the operator level.
Soldiers at the HVAC repair shop are always available for assistance. They are located at the field maintenance facility behind the east-side post office, if anyone has questions, needs repairs or would like a copy of the manual.
“If you keep your system clean,” said Ripka, “it will keep you cool.”