Inside the 908th: Water & Fuel Systems Maintenance - Ensuring the Flow of Success

  • Published
  • By Maj. John T. Stamm
  • 908th Airlift Wing

The Air Force employs thousands of miles of fuel and water lines essential to daily operations, and it’s the job of water and fuel systems maintenance specialists, Air Force specialty code 3E4X1, to maintain them.

These professionals are highly trained in a wide variety of areas; they install, inspect, maintain, troubleshoot, modify, repair, and manage plumbing, water distribution, wastewater collection systems, water and wastewater treatment systems, fire suppression, backflow prevention systems, natural gas distribution systems, liquid fuel storage, distribution, and dispensing systems to keep bases running smoothly while upholding the highest environmental standards. 

“It’s not all unclogging toilets,” said Tech. Sgt. Ramone Lacey, 908th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuel systems maintenance specialist.  “You must work with wisdom and think outside the box.  If you like working with your hands across a broad range of projects, this is the career for you.”

To be proficient, water and fuels system specialists obtain knowledge of contingency and peacetime operations in hydraulic, electrical, mechanical theories; principles that apply to all utility and liquid fuel systems; the characteristics, physiological effects, and hazards of liquid fuel products; types, sizes, and uses of plumbing materials and components; mathematics; reading and interpreting drawings and specifications, military and commercial publications, and environmental regulations; maintenance of water distribution, wastewater collection; natural gas distribution systems; and corrosion prevention.

They also locate and determine the quality and quantity of water sources, analyze water for chemical and physical characteristics to determine water purification treatment methods, and install and operate field potable water treatment equipment.  They also coordinate locations of field latrines and pits with engineering and medical staff.

Lacey claims this responsibility is vital to Air Force operations, especially when at a remote or deployed location.

“We ensure water for bathing and consumption is clean and safe, and that requires knowing how to operate and trouble shoot the [Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit],” he said.  “Contaminated water can wreak havoc on a person, just ask any public health or medical Airman.  Clean water is essential for survival and mission readiness.”

For entry into this specialty, one must be 17-42 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, have minimum scores of 47 on the Mechanical and 28 on the Electronics portions of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, be free from fear of confined spaces and heights and possess normal color vision.  Completion of courses in mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, earth sciences, drawing and specification use, and shop mechanics is desirable.       

“I love this job,” said Staff Sgt. Dandrez Dashiell, 908th CES water and fuel systems specialist.  “I’ve learned five or six specialties within my own.  And, not only do these skills transfer on the outside [to civilian employment], but you can use them at home.  That’s pretty awesome.”

If you are interested in a part-time career with full-time benefits as a Reserve Citizen Airman with the 908th Airlift Wing, please contact our recruiting staff at 334-953-6737.