Keeping Barksdale rolling

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Gonsier 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Maintenance tire shop keeps the Barksdale mission rolling by performing tire maintenance the base needs to keep their vehicles moving.

"The Vehicle Maintenance tire shop is responsible for all of the tires on Barksdale," said Tech. Sgt. Vincent St. Hilaire, 2 LRS Allied Trades section NCO in charge. "We don't just do the 2nd Bomb Wing. We also support the 307th Bomb Wing, 917th Fighter Wing and all tenant units."

The maintainers repair tires that contain nails, screws and bolts, broken valve stems, tires that have blown out from abnormal use, and wear and tear. Additionally, they perform more than 100 tire changes each month.

"If there is an issue with a tire the operator or vehicle control officer cannot fix, they come to us," St. Hilaire said. "When a government owned vehicle is brought in, we inspect it, and make a decision on whether the tire needs to be repaired or replaced. It's on a case by case basis. We do everything here before sending it to a local agency for special cases."

The facility has around 300 tires on hand in their warehouse. The tires vary in size and have a price range of $65 to $16,000.

Because of the different types of vehicles the 2 LRS is responsible for, Airmen receive 30 hours of hands-on training, and must read over and understand their technical orders.

"We are trained on how to operate four different types of machines which includes three different wheel changing stations and a wheel balancer," said Airman 1st Class Kenneth Bates, 2 LRS Allied Trades section journeyman. "Safety is another part of our training. Conducting a tire change incorrectly can put you into a life or death situation."

While anything can go wrong when changing any sized tire, it's the bigger vehicles, like forklifts, and split rim tires that pose the most danger.

"If we are not doing our job right or paying attention, a tire can blow up, and put our lives in immediate danger," Bates said.

Doing their job right not only keeps the tire shop Airmen out of danger, but it also helps get vehicles in and out in a timely manner.

"There was a tire recall recently, so we had to inspect every vehicle that used the type of tire and replace all of the affected tires," Bates said. "Doing the job quickly and correctly ensured we did not get backlogged."

There are many customers who drop off their vehicle, and wait for it to be fixed because it's needed for the mission.

"We are customer orientated," St. Hilaire said. "The customer has a mission to complete when they come in with a broken vehicle. I want them to come in, and know we did everything we could to fix their vehicle."

A tire may not seem like a big deal, but the tire shop understands its importance. Base personnel do not realize the effect it has on the mission until their tires give them problems.

"The tire is the only part of the vehicle that touches the road," St. Hilaire said. "That makes it the most important aspect of a vehicle. The engines, air conditioner and brakes can all work, but that does not matter if your vehicle cannot move."

The tire shop maintains an assortment of tires, and enables Team Barksdale to do their mission by providing the base with the maintenance needed to keep vehicles moving.