Senior Airman Melissa Franco, a fuels journeyman assigned to the 482nd Fuels Management Flight, prepares to refuel an F-16 during a recent Operational Readiness Inspection at Homestead Air Reserve Base (U.S. Air Force photo/Tim Norton)
Tech. Sgt. Heber Moreno Moyo, fuels Journeyman from the 482nd Fuels Management Flight, Homestead Air Reserve Base Fla., pours fuel into a beaker to test for dirt or foreign substances. The flight tests all fuel delivered to the base regularly. Fuel is tested for dirt, water and consistency to ensure it's safe to use.(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez)
Tech.Sgt. Heber Moreno Moyo, fuels journeyman from the 482nd Fuels Management Flight, Homestead Air Reserve Base Fla., unwinds a refueling hose prior to servicing an aircraft. In 2011 the 482nd Fuels Management Flight pumped 6,000,000 gallons of fuel and fueled 5,000 aircraft. The flight fuels all aircraft at Homestead Air Reserve Base and all base government vehicles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez)
by Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/20/2012 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- The 482nd Fuels Management Flight at Homestead ARB has successfully supported airshows, massive humanitarian relief efforts, distinguished visitors of the highest order, contingencies and above all, the mission at home.
"Fuels is an essential life source for any base and any mission," said Capt. Damien Miller, 482nd Fuels Management Flight commander. "Fuel keeps engines running to carry out our mission to fly, fight and win."
The fuels process begins with the flight ordering products and making sure it's properly deposited to the base's bulk storage facility which holds millions of gallons of fuel.
Before fuel is sent anywhere it must be coordinated by the Fuels Control Center. Once a request is received, jet fuel is then transported from the bulk storage facility to the aircraft by fuel trucks, equipped with hydrant systems to issue and recover fuel.
The transportation of fuel and distribution is only half of the handling responsibilities. Personnel shoulder the responsibility for ensuring the quality and safety of the fuel. All fuel delivered to the base is routinely tested by the flight for foreign substances.
"We pride ourselves on our response time and our proficiency," said Senior Airman Melissa Franco, a fuels journeyman assigned to the flight.
Besides supplying jet fuel to aircraft, the flight supplies gasoline, diesel fuel, liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen to all government vehicles and support equipment 24/7.
A unique part of the flight is the mix of manpower assigned. Contractor personnel from Environmental Management Incorporated and Air Force Reservists work together to meet the base's needs. Often sharing responsibilities, personnel must work as a team to achieve their goals. Working with flammables and hazardous products, they are required to follow strict safety procedures and maintain accountability for each other's work.
"We know how to pull together and get the job done," said Master Sgt. William Bechelmayr, Fuels Quality Assurance Evaluator. "We have to be ready at a moment's notice to take on any task at hand."
Besides servicing its primary customer, the 482nd Fighter Wing, the flight supports the Florida Air National Guard's alert mission, U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection air operations, Special Operations Command South and the Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team missions.
In 2011 the Fuels Flight pumped close to 6 million gallons of jet fuel into 5,000 aircraft, with an average response time of eight minutes. The flight pumps an average of 500,000 gallons of fuel per month.
"My first time driving a fuel truck was pretty scary because I had to acknowledge I was driving around with thousands of gallons of flammable gas. There is no room for error," said Franco. "We pull through whatever challenges we face by working as a tight nit group. The best part of being in the fuels flight is that we are like one big family. Everybody helps each other to advance in their jobs and complete the mission."