How the Liberty Wing’s safety office keeps the mission secured

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Gaspar Cortez
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Every member of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath and Feltwell plays a crucial role in maintaining a safe working environment. It may be difficult to prevent every accident from happening, but with the proper methods of collecting information, protecting individuals, and preserving combat capabilities, catastrophe could be reduced and even prevented, according to the experts in the Liberty Wing’s safety office.

“Mission effectiveness relies on identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks where possible,” said Maj. Adam Becker, 48th FW chief of safety. “We want to equip all Airmen with the resources, knowledge, and authority to take appropriate action to protect people, aircraft, and equipment while at home, TDY, or deployed to ensure we’re always ready to own the skies.”

RAF Lakenheath and Feltwell’s safety office is divided into 3 divisions, all charged with accountability and assessment of the 48th FW commander’s safety program. They include flight safety, weapons safety and occupational safety.

Flight safety ensures safe operations for the fighter squadrons’ aircraft and for transient aircraft visiting either installation.

“The meticulous collection and detailed analysis of flight safety data enables us to identify and address flight hazards, both proactively and reactively,” said Master Sgt. Curtis Carson, 48th FW flight safety manager. “This process creates an essential connection, offering trusted advice to base leadership and MAJCOMs, ensuring informed, decisive actions for effective risk mitigation.”

The team at weapons safety oversees all safety aspects related to the use, storage, and transportation of explosive materials. Around the clock, they aim to achieve the cardinal rule for explosives safety: to expose the minimum number of people to the minimum amount of explosives for the minimum amount of time while achieving mission objectives.

This can only be accomplished through meticulous explosives site planning, safety inspections and locally written guidance reviews. Additionally, there is a heavy reliance on unit safety representatives to liaise with the wing weapons safety office and emphasize the importance of explosives safety.
According to Tech. Sgt Sean Bigelow, 48th FW weapons safety manager, the key is constant and transparent communication with unit personnel. Various forums such as planning meetings, training sessions, and steering groups are solid opportunities to disseminate pertinent information.

“By ensuring the explosive related risk is mitigated to the maximum extent possible commensurate with safe and efficient operations, we help the wing maintain a lethal force,” said Bigelow. “And this allows the Air Force’s greatest resource, our Airmen, to meet and defeat our adversaries.”

And occupational safety ensures the safety of all base personnel to include military, civilian, and dependents both on and off duty. Their responsibilities include ensuring safe practices and policies are followed at the workplace, during vehicle operation and when enjoying recreational activities.

They fulfill this daily by adhering to their three mission goals, to include ‘growth,’ which encourages Airmen to cultivate a culture of safe practices. This is facilitated through ‘engagement’ with the Airmen, ensuring that all personnel can ‘continuously improve’ their safety habits both on and off duty.

Additionally, occupational safety provides hands-on training to supervisors and unit safety representatives.

“Some of the training we provide includes activities that assess unit safety programs, disseminating safety information, inspecting facilities, tracking trends, and providing safety expertise,” said Senior Airman Connor Badten, 48th FW occupational safety technician. “When mishaps do occur, the safety office is the focal point for mishap reporting, investigation and trend analysis.”

Tracking these trends can lead to changes in the way local regulations and laws are written. For example, one trend demonstrated accidents were occurring in a specific area off base due to speed limits. Through data analysis by the safety office, they, along with the local traffic safety council in the area, were able to change the speed limit, reducing accidents and effectively saving the lives of Airmen, their families, and local residents.

The 48th Fighter Wing safety office actively engages with Airmen across the installation through monthly spot inspections, annual facility and program inspections, OSHA outreach classes, supervisor safety training, newcomers briefings, and risk management coordination during event planning. In doing so, they serve as the direct line to provide trusted counsel to commanders and leaders, keeping you and all those around you, safe and combat ready.