SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – A facility to store liquids, semi-solids, aerosols and other chemicals on Sheppard AFB is back online after much-needed renovations and upgrades – and a little environmental and conservation TLC.
The Hazardous Material Pharmacy, or HAZMART, located in Bldg. 2116, was turned over to the 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron earlier this year in the spring after the $1.2 million project to bring the facility back up to standards was complete. A ribbon cutting ceremony Nov. 29, 2018, marked its re-opening.
Brig. Gen. Ronald E. Jolly Sr., 82nd Training Wing commander, said the renovated facility is the best he has seen in his 27 years of service as a logistician. Not only does it provide creature comforts for those who work there, but it also provides the required environments to store a variety of supplies used in aircraft maintenance.
“It’s very important because it provides a safe environment for the storage of some of the acid and caustic materials that we will use, so you don’t just go and put it on the shelf somewhere,” he said. “It needs to process through here so that we keep our Airmen who are in those working conditions safe.”
The existing structure was built in 1999 to store more than 450 items used to maintain the 80th Flying Training Wing’s fleet of T-37 Tweets, now retired, and T-38 Talons. The devastating temperatures in 2011 – 100 days of 100-plus degree weather – exposed flaws in the facility when it could not meet storage temperature requirements of below 90 degrees. The average internal temperature was 97 degrees.
David Hubbard, the 82nd Contracting Squadron’s contracting officer representative, said the high temperatures caused some materials to seep out of their containers, resulting in the disposal of hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplies. He said several agencies on base including bioenvironmental, safety and the fire department agreed in 2013 that the facility and its air conditioning systems needed an upgrade.
The contract for the project was awarded in 2015. Hubbard said HAZMART operations, with approval, were moved to the large warehouse in Bldg. 2113.
After a few delays, crews were nearing completion of the new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in April 2017 when they discovered an unexpected visitor turning their ductwork into a temporary aviary apartment – a Texas Barn Owl, affectionately named Owlivia Wild.
“All of the electrical had been re-accomplished by then and they were starting with the a/c systems and ductwork, and that’s when it (the owl) had come in,” Hubbard said. “All work stopped on the facility. It now belonged to the owl because it was one of those that was protected, so they couldn’t disturb it or the nest because there were already eggs in the nest.”
Work resumed after roughly eight months of the owl inhabiting the ductwork. Artwork commemorating the unexpected guest will be hung in the facility with the following statement:
“Dedicated to Texas Barn Owl Owlivia Wild during your 8 months you hatched your chicks and delayed completion of this renovation project. Happy hunting!”
The new facility is sectioned off with independent HVAC systems in each. The building is also equipped with explosive-proof systems such as lighting and fan motors.
The general applauded the work done by multiple agencies to invest in the facility and infrastructure of Sheppard.
“This facility right here is key to safe operations across the installation,” he said. “As a maintainer, I’m very familiar with HAZMART. I’m very familiar with the support it takes to ensure that we are producing safe sorties for (the 80th Flying Training Wing). You guys put a lot of time and I’ll say blood, sweat and tears into this facility and I want to recognize you all for great teamwork across the installation.”