Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson mechanic innovates safety solution

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Samuel R. Colvin
  • 673rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A civilian Airman began upgrading 18 aircraft de-icing trucks with anchor points to enhance the safety of 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron heavy mobile equipment mechanics at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Jan. 22.

These trucks are used to remove ice and snow prior to aircraft takeoff. During the trucks’ regularly-scheduled maintenance and times requiring immediate attention, heavy-vehicle mechanics must work on top of the trucks which require fall-protection in case of accidents.

“Having the safety harnesses attached on top of the trucks is going to save us a lot of headaches,” said Jessie Mauldin 673rd LRS heavy mobile equipment mechanic and safety innovator. “There are times when the trucks break (near the) planes and if we have to get on top of the trucks, there’s nowhere to hook yourself to them.”

The older de-icing trucks must be brought into the hangar where mechanics can tether themselves to overhead cables. This can delay mission readiness, and causes issues when one of the two fall-protection systems in the hangar isn’t available.

“When we got the newer de-icer fleet, Mauldin noticed the trucks were coming from the factory with eyelets, these fall-protection anchor points,” said Master Sgt. Brian Estonactoc, 673rd LRS mission generation vehicular maintenance section chief. “That’s what sparked his idea.”

“I got in touch with the engineer for the de-icing truck manufacturer and he sent me a blueprint of exactly where I could drill holes on top of the older trucks without damaging the structural integrity,” Mauldin said.

Since this is a safety issue, Mauldin used the blueprint as a guide and cut a metal template to line up exactly with the new holes on top of the trucks to ensure uniformity.

“Wintertime is when I see this being really useful because a lot of the trucks are left outside and have ice on them,” Mauldin said. “After this is done, it kind of takes the worry away because you’re tethered to the truck. If you fall, you’re only going to fall two or three feet.”

Mauldin describes his project as a simple, quick-fix to a big problem.

“Mauldin identified a shortfall and sourced a solution,” Estonactoc said, who also worked with Mauldin at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, in the early 2000s. “He worked with the manufacturer, engineers and wing safety, and we finalized the addition within our flight.

“He’s our lead de-icer mechanic,” Estonactoc said. “He’s very passionate about his job and safety comes with it.”

Col. Thomas Sherman, Wright-Patterson AFB and the 88th AB Wing commander, coined Mauldin during the Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award site visit, Jan. 16, to recognize him for his efforts in innovation and safety. Mauldin has taken steps to push his innovation to all heavy-vehicle maintenance shops Air Force-wide.