FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Fort Cavazos started load shedding measures by reducing energy usage during peak hours to alleviate stress on the Texas power grid. This initiative, which will last until September, involves adjusting temperature set points on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems in about 200 facilities across the installation here.
While family housing and barracks across the installation are not affected by this specific effort, those specific facilities, and the people living in them, are still affected by the intense summer heat Central Texas has been experiencing lately. HVAC technicians across the installation have been working diligently to ensure that family housing, barracks and other facilities don’t have to spend too much time without AC, or heat during the winter months here.
“What we do is we run through and inspect the barracks and then we identify broken things in the rooms, and then we order any of the broken items,” Jeremiah Partyke, maintenance mechanic for Directorate of Public Works, explained. “Then we come back again throughout the entire building, and we fix those items. If we have our team of four (technicians) available, it would take us two weeks to inspect (an entire barracks building). … We just do our due diligence every day to try and get through as many (buildings) as possible.”
Texas has been expericing historic heat, which has affected AC units throughout the installation. Partyke shared that his team has worked to ensure they put as much focus on Soldiers and barracks as possible.
The limited number of HVAC technicians for the installation though can make this an issue, as there are far more buildings and homes than there are technicians. For example, Cavalry Family Housing has roughly 25 air conditioner techs for the more than 5,000 homes that are on the installation.
“This is historic heat,” Chris Albus, project manager for Cavalry Family Housing, expressed. “The number of calls, I do believe, we had last year over the last few years is lower and the heat is historic this year. And it has to do with the work that these technicians are doing as well as the reinvestment that we’re making into the project, too.”
The response time to get a technician out to a home is roughly one day to have visit scheduled, with an average of the completion of the entire work order being 18 hours.
“Maintenance is excellent to me,” Sgt. 1st Class Edrick Kendrick, 1st Cavalry Division, shared during an annual inspection to ensure that his HVAC system was running properly. “I haven’t had any issues other than when I first got here, but since then I haven’t had any issues. I like the area; I like the house.”
Cavalry Family Housing has a few tips for residents to ensure that their HVAC system continues to run properly. This includes keeping the thermostat between 75 and 78 degrees; to change air filters once a month, or if pets are present twice a month, using the air filters provided at the Cavalry Family Housing Lawn and Garden Center; keep exterior doors and windows closed; close all window blinds; keep interior doors open; and keep the thermostat on auto mode.
It is also important for residents, Soldiers and anyone on the installation to remember that the technicians are working as quickly as they can.
“Once we help the Soldier and we make that the connection with either barracks management or with the Soldier, once we look them in the eye and they understand that we’re trying our hardest, even though maybe that DMO (demand maintenance order) comes in and it’s been a week,” Partyke shared. “When it comes to an individual room, we do our best. At the same time, we also have a backlog that we have to go from oldest to newest.
“But once we make that connectivity, as far as looking them in the eyes, saying, ‘Hey, we’re here, we’re willing to help you out,’ they understand that we are inundated as far as trying to tackle as much AC and heat at the cool time of the year,” he continued. “And usually it’s a, ‘Thank you. We appreciate you.’
“It’s when we don’t make that effort to communicate or call is when we get that frustration, whether it’s in time frame,” Partyke ended with. “… Just please be patient with us, okay? We try our best and then once (someone) knows that, like we’re not forgetting about them, there’s a lot of grace. And (someone saying), ‘thank you so much for what DPW does.’”