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Base maintainers want vehicles to remain fit to fight

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer
photo by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman

Senior Airman Travis Cecil, 6th Logistics Readines Squadron vehicle technician, performs a routine inspection on a government-owned vehicle. Regular care and periodic inspections are the key to keeping GOVs up to the standards which will keep them running well for years.

MacDill's Airmen may be fit to fight thanks to a new initiative to maintain their bodies but base vehicle maintainers would like to start a program of their own to ensure MacDill's vehicles are "fit to drive."

There's been a downturn in the level of vehicle "fitness" on base, said Staff Sgt. Robert Osbourne, who is the fleet vehicle control manager for the for the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron. With new vehicles on the way, he wants to see a greater level of attention to vehicle care to ensure maximum life is achieved.

"It's an all-around problem," said Sergeant Osbourne. "We don't want to single anyone out but there are some squads worse than others and in a couple of recent incidents we had two cars driven through flooded streets and now they need new engines."

But while catastrophic problems are not the norm, minor lapses are and add up to a lot of extra work and expense for maintainers.

"Tire pressure is a bigger problem than most people realize," said Senior Master Sgt. Richard Tarnowski, fleet manager with the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "If not kept at the proper level, tires can wear out a lot faster than they should."

Another common problem on base is failure to fill out Form 1800, which is a vehicle fitness report of sorts. A vehicle's condition should be noted and a quick inspection done each time it is used or signed out and the form initialized. Even if the vehicle is not being used, the form should be filled out once a week, said Sergeant Tarnowski.

"Not using a vehicle doesn't mean you don't have to worry about problems," he said, particularly when it comes to special purpose vehicles. He notes in a recent two-week period, 10 lift cylinders were replaced on base forklifts. By not cycling the lifts and running them periodically, the cylinders go dry and when the lifts are needed, it's learned they are not functional, he said.

Both sergeants encourage people using fleet vehicles to keep them waxed to protect the paint from the brutal, Florida sun. Four times a year is the recommended waxing schedule, but many are skipping these quarterly duties and the results are showing.

"Some of the 10-year-old vehicles we have look more like 30," said Sergeant Osbourne.

Another common problem is people fail to report little problems while they still are small, said Sergeant Tarnowski.

"That means little things turn into big things and more problems," he said. "If you take care of them when they first happen, it saves a lot of trouble in the end."

As hurricane threats keep MacDill on its toes this season, the importance of reliable vehicles and equipment should be at the forefront of everyone's mind, said Sergeant Osbourne. Readiness goes for servicemembers and the machines that move them.




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