445th CES: A squadron with many skills

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Santana M. Austin
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When most people hear the words 'Civil Engineer Squadron,' they immediately think of a carpenter, plumber, or a person who paves the streets. While those are among some of the things the members of the CES do, this is only part of what the CES is about.

"We are the public works department of the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Christopher Cunningham, 445th CES commander. "When you see people paving the street or people putting out fires, you're seeing the CES at work."

The CES has many Air Force specialty codes within the squadron, which means a number of responsibilities around the base.

"With as many AFSCs as we have, this squadron has many capabilities," said Cunningham. "We do much more than just deal with road and building up keep."

A few of the many AFSCs that lie within the CES include electrical systems, electrical power production, fire protection, entomology and emergency management.

"Our electricians fall under two different AFSCs: electrical systems and electrical power production," said Cunningham. "The electrical systems people are the ones who handle interior and exterior operations. For example, if a switch or a circuit needs repairing, these guys are the ones you call. The people in electrical power production are the ones who maintain generators, engines and the aircraft barriers."

Some may wonder why a runway needs aircraft barriers. According to Cunningham, the purpose of aircraft barriers is to catch airplanes if they are about to overshoot a runway or if there is an emergency.

"A pilot may decide that they need to catch a barrier if they're having trouble slowing down," said Cunningham. "That's where the folks in electrical power production come into play. They set up the barrier for the pilot. The pilot then sends down a tail hook and to catch a cable on the runway and the barrier will drag out, thus slowing the plane down."

When an airplane or building catches fire, the first people at the scene are the firefighters from the CES. With tanker trucks, fire engines and a skilled team of firefighters at the ready, this group is ready to take on any fire.

"Our folks are trained to respond to structural fires and aircraft fires," said Cunningham. "Not only do they know how to properly put out the fires and carry people out of hazardous areas, but they also know how to do life-saving procedures, such as CPR."

CES is also responsible for pest management. The CES's entomology career field uses their knowledge of different vector hazards, such as bugs, rodents, or poisonous snakes, as well as the knowledge of the chemicals to use to deter or remove the vector hazards.

"They must use caution with and know much about the chemicals they use, as they want to get rid of the pests, not to harm the people," said Cunningham. "They're pretty much the go-to guys when you need to know about the kinds of pests in an area. The precautions we take depend on the area we get deployed to, as every area has its own creatures."

The emergency management group is another essential part of the squadron. They group helps provide plans for emergencies. They also help set up control centers, and command and control systems.

"If something were to happen on base, the EMs help set up the response, as well as identify what chemicals the base may deal with," said Cunningham. "They also do the CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives] training when people prepare to deploy."

While the people of the CES have a wide spectrum of skills, the upkeep of those skills can be tough, especially for a reservist within the squadron.

"As a reservist, it's challenging. "We have so many AFSCs in this squadron that fall under the CES umbrella. Not only do these folks have to keep up with their job's training, but they also must keep up with their general wartime skills. For example, an electrician may need to focus on electrical skill training and other upgrade skills, but at the same time, they need to stay qualified on the M4 once a year, as well as keep their self aid and buddy care skills up to par. Regardless of the situation, however, they manage to get things done and I'm proud of their work," Cunningham said.