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Two new facilities to update flightline safety, performance

by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman
Thunderbolt editor
photo by Airman 1st Class Heather Kanaska
Base officials break ground Feb. 20, on the new rescue station near the flightline. The 15-month project includes a new 124.5-foot control tower as well.

The groundbreaking ceremony officially beginning construction of two new flightline facilities was held Feb. 20, first for the new air traffic control tower, then again for the new fire, crash and rescue facility. The $13 million contract for both was awarded to Kokolakis Contracting, which recently finished construction of the Davis Conference Center on Bayshore Boulevard.

The new ATC tower will replace one of the oldest still in use by the Air Force. Built in 1955 the old tower is out of date and too short, said Bob Fisher, 6th Civil Engineer Squadron's military construction project manager. He also said it will have many upgrades, not only aesthetically but to the technology as well.

Senior Master Sgt. Athena Cody, 6th Operations Support Squadron's chief controller, is excited about the project. "From equipment to locker rooms, new offices, showers, kitchen and a break area, (we have) everything needed to make a 24-hour facility functional," she said. One of the most notable additions to the 124.5-foot tower will be the simulator on the sixth floor.

"It's a device used to supplement training and ensure currency for rated controllers," she said. "We use the simulator to ensure controllers can retain and actually apply learned material in a moving, changing environment that will not stop."

Mr. Fisher said the simulator was actually designed first and the building was designed around those dimensions. He also said the biggest challenge will come when controllers start the transition from the old to the new tower.

"The old tower will not be demolished until after completion of the new. So we have a facility to fall back to if we encounter major discrepancies," said Sergeant Cody. "Like anything else, transition comes with problems, not all obvious at first but fixable once identifiable. We'll work close with the install teams to ensure everything is on-line and working well before we switch over."

Sergeant Cody wanted to thank someone near and dear to her for helping the new tower become a reality. "Chief Master Sgt. James Cody coordinated hand in hand with CE to ensure we had a facility that would be comfortable for controllers," she said. "This is truly his project; he worked from conception to implementation."

The new tower isn't the only new building though. Flightline firefighters can look forward to a state-of-the-art facility when construction of both facilities is completed in March 2005.

John Warhul, 6th CES fire chief, said the new facility will have "all the comforts of home" for the firefighters assigned there.

"(There will be) new everything, from the 911 center, facilities to house all vehicles, private bunk rooms, conference rooms, HazMat storage, new kitchens and state-of-the-art training classrooms, comfortable day and recreation rooms, along with a new gym and sauna!" said Chief Warhul. "Who could ask for anything more?"

Currently, fire, crash and rescue personnel must sit in their trucks on the flightline to ensure they can get to aircraft in trouble within the three minutes mandated by Air Force regulations. Their new facility, on the opposite side of the flightline from where it is located now, will ensure the entire airfield is in reach.




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