Inside the 908th: HVAC/R technicians

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shelby Thurman
  • 908th Airlift Wing

Those that live in a hot and humid climate know how important it is to try and stay cool.  Here in Alabama, summertime temperatures can exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit before 10 a.m. One of the first things someone might express relief about when they walk into a building is that the air conditioning is on. This is where the Airmen from the 908th Civil Engineer Squadron who specialize in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration really get to shine.

HVAC/R technicians (Air Force Specialty Code 3E1X1) are civil engineers who apply knowledge and principles relating to HVAC/R systems, controls, and components. This includes, but is not limited to: combustion systems, air and water balancing, electrical equipment, industrial air compressors, interpreting drawings and schematics, industrial water treatment, environment regulations for fuels, refrigerants, and hazardous materials, military and commercial publications and environmental regulations.

“We’re like a jack of all trades,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Phillips, a 908 CES HVAC/R technician. “I think we’re multifunctional because we have to deal with traditional HVAC things like heating and cooling elements, but also because we do plumbing work because of water supply and return lines, as well as have electrical skills because the units are run and controlled by electricity.”

The HVAC/R systems do more than just deliver cooler air, they also filter contaminants from the air.  

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “In addition to ‘atmospheric dust,’ airborne particulates can include pollen, mold (fungal) spores, animal dander, insect proteins, pesticides, lead and infectious bacteria and viruses.”

So not only do HVAC/R technicians ensure more comfortable air, they also provide an overall cleaner environment to work in.

“The most rewarding part of this job is when we are able to get peoples’ cool air going again,” said Phillips. “Not having air conditioning can be miserable especially in our Alabama heat or in a deployed environment. As for directly supporting our mission here… I feel like we are able to be a part of a successful overall mission when we are able to restore cooling for critical communication systems and flight line landing systems.”

For entry into this specialty, completion of high school with courses in mathematics, general science, physics, shop mechanics, electricity, and computer fundamentals is desirable. As well as normal color vision and possession of a valid state driver’s license to operate government motor vehicles.

If you are interested in a part-time career with full-time benefits as a Reserve Citizen Airman with the 908th Airlift Wing, please contact our Recruiting staff at 334-953-6737.