Heavy Equipment crew at Arnold AFB helps keep roadways safe if winter weather strikes

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. – Though snow days are fairly few and far between for Tennessee, whenever inclement weather does occur during the cold, winter months, the Heavy Equipment crew that oversees roads maintenance at Arnold Air Force Base is ready to tackle it head-on and keep the streets on base safe.

“When there’s a forecasted chance of snow or ice, our goal is to keep the roadways as safe as possible so we can get everyone to and from work,” said Tom Penfold, facilities manager for Base Operations and Support with Chugach, the subcontractor for National Aerospace Solutions, LLC, at Arnold.

Efforts to mitigate problems that arise due to inclement weather usually begin well before the frozen precipitation falls. Penfold explained that the Base Operations and Support team stays updated on the weather forecasts for Nashville and Huntsville and receives the National Weather Service updates, while coordinating with the base Operations Center on current base road conditions and forecasts. The intent is to stay at least 24 to 48 hours ahead of the inclement weather and prepare for when it may arrive.

The Heavy Equipment crew has a highly-experienced team of skilled and trained truck drivers, equipment operators and laborers supporting response to winter events. The main response vehicles include two trucks with snow plows and salt spreaders, a third salt spreader truck and a parking lot salt spreader truck, in addition to a brine truck for pretreatment. The brine is mixed on base and applied as needed to the roadways before an anticipated cold weather event.

A large salt supply is maintained on base to be prepared for any winter events.

Edd Walker, supervisor for the Heavy Equipment crew at Arnold, said he applauds the work of his team, who will at times have to come in during times they’re not regularly scheduled in preparation for inclement weather.

“Having a good crew makes my job easier, because it’s usually late in the evening or early morning when snow hits, and everyone always responds to the call,” he said.

Walker also asks everyone on base to do their part to stay safe in the event of winter weather.

“The danger on the local roads is the traffic speed, so please take caution in inclement weather,” he said. “Please be aware of the crews working and keep your distance from the plow trucks.”

Arnold Engineering Development Complex Roads and Grounds crew members pause from their workday for a socially-distanced photo in front of the salt sheds, Jan. 6, 2021, at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The crew responds when winter weather threatens the area and increases the risk of hazardous travel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett)


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