Powered by Innovation: 725 AMS Creates Cleanup Response Trailer

  • Published
  • By Capt Christopher M. Sweeney
  • 725th Air Mobility Squadron
The men and women of the 725th Air Mobility Squadron are no strangers to meeting challenges with innovation and adaptability.  The 725 AMS faces unique challenges as a tenant unit at Naval Station Rota, Spain, a Spanish controlled base with the United States Navy as the lead American Service. The operating environment is a diverse mixture of joint and coalition partners performing operations from a single runway airfield with no organic flying mission. Successful execution of the mission requires teamwork and innovation from the assigned personnel.

One obstacle tackled by members of the 725 AMS team at NAVSTA Rota was their response to a U.S. Navy mandate for a new airfield fire extinguishing system, which took effect on 1 January 2014. In this directive, the legacy suppression system, Halon 1211, was replaced by a dry powder fire extinguishing agent, Potassium Bicarbonate (PKP), for its reduced environmental impact. While this new fire agent is an ecofriendly alternative to Halon, it can be devastating to metals and alloys found on aircraft. The new agent requires immediate cleanup within six hours of use to prevent severe corrosive effects.

As the airfield transitioned to PKP as the primary fire extinguishing agent on the ground, the   725 AMS became responsible for the cleanup of AMC aircraft exposed to the corrosive fire agent.  Master Sgts. Eddie Ybarra and Gregory Mitchell, 725 AMS production superintendents, recognized the need to establish a quick reaction checklist, training guide, clean up kit, and list of personal protective equipment to meet the stringent safety requirements associated with PKP.  In doing so, they recognized the list of required equipment could not be dispatched in an emergency. They then devised an innovative method to ensure a rapid reaction could be consistently executed in these high pressure situations.  They created an asset capable of housing all equipment, PPE, and associated resources necessary for cleanup and capable of dispatch within 15 minutes to anywhere on the airfield.

Ybarra and Mitchell teamed with the 725 AMS Aerospace Ground Equipment flight to modify an asset scheduled for Defense Reutilization Management Office turn in.  The response trailer is built on the chassis of an A/M-32A-86 ground power unit, commonly found throughout the Air Force and used to deliver power for aircraft electrical systems.  This asset was specifically selected for its inherent light weight, durability, and national stock number supportability to be transformed into a low cost, repairable asset with a high level of sustainability.

The 725 AMS capitalized on a previous innovation where the AGE flight developed an organic welding capability, a skill normally found only in fabrication flights.  The team, under the direction of Staff Sgt Gregory Lyon, harnessed the welding capability to construct and modify the trailer using squadron assets and personnel.

The trailer build was completed in December 2014 and is expected to rollout after being painted in early January 2015.  From design to completion this project will have integrated the requirements, plans, and labor of four duty sections, seven career fields, and more than 20 mechanics, technicians, fabricators, and welders.

The men and women of the 725 AMS developed an innovative method to enable the use of environmentally-friendly fire extinguishing agents while mitigating the possibility of metal corrosion on AMC aircraft during the response to a fire emergency.  By designing, building and sourcing parts from inside the squadron to build the response trailer, the 725 AMS saved the Department of Defense over $15,000. The unit also saved untold amounts by avoiding corrosion damage to AMC aircraft, while ensuring premiere en route support to the warfighter.