HomeNewsArticle Display

Innovation emerges from earthquake aftermath

Members of the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron utilities shop assemble a 300-foot section of insulated pipe at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 1, 2018.  Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, the Alaska Mission Operations Center suffered a water main break. Due to the long-term cold weather, a temporary solution was decided upon. The innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen ensured the Alaska Mission Operations Center had water within two days, and saved the U.S. Air Force almost $20,000.

Members of the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron utilities shop assemble a 300-foot section of insulated pipe at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 1, 2018. Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, the Alaska Mission Operations Center suffered a water main break. Due to the long-term cold weather, a temporary solution was decided upon. The innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen ensured the Alaska Mission Operations Center had water within two days, and saved the U.S. Air Force almost $20,000.

Members of the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron utilities shop assemble a 300-foot section of insulated pipe at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 1, 2018.  Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, the Alaska Mission Operations Center suffered a water main break. Due to the long-term cold weather, a temporary solution was decided upon. The innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen ensured the Alaska Mission Operations Center had water within two days, and saved the U.S. Air Force almost $20,000.

Members of the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron utilities shop assemble a 300-foot section of insulated pipe at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 1, 2018. Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, the Alaska Mission Operations Center suffered a water main break. Due to the long-term cold weather, a temporary solution was decided upon. The innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen ensured the Alaska Mission Operations Center had water within two days, and saved the U.S. Air Force almost $20,000.

Aaron Bryant and Rick Gill, 773d CES utilities operators, assemble a 300-foot section of insulated pipe at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 1, 2018.  Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, the Alaska Mission Operations Center suffered a water main break. Due to the long-term cold weather, a temporary solution was decided upon. The innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen ensured the Alaska Mission Operations Center had water within two days, and saved the U.S. Air Force almost $20,000.

Aaron Bryant and Rick Gill, 773d CES utilities operators, assemble a 300-foot section of insulated pipe at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 1, 2018. Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake, the Alaska Mission Operations Center suffered a water main break. Due to the long-term cold weather, a temporary solution was decided upon. The innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen ensured the Alaska Mission Operations Center had water within two days, and saved the U.S. Air Force almost $20,000.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --

Following the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, teams from several different 773d Civil Engineer Squadron shops were sent out to assess damages and respond to damage reports.

During one of these evaluations, Rick Gill, a 773d CES utilities operator, was faced with shutting off a broken water main which distributed water to the Alaska Mission Operations Center.

“It was just an ordinary Friday morning, and most of our units were getting into their morning routines as the earth began to shake,” Gill said. “Not too long after, we got a phone call regarding a water main break. Our first priority was to get out there, stop the leak and immediately start coming up with solutions for getting that building water. We recognized right away a permanent solution was not going to be an option with the long-term cold weather conditions we were in.”

Although a temporary solution was agreed upon, immediate challenges arose with getting the necessary, but expensive, specialty pipe manufactured and delivered in a timely manner.

“The local fabricator told us it would take approximately four to five days to manufacture and deliver the 300-foot section of pipe, and then we would have to assemble it with a cost estimate of $24,000,” Gill said. “While we were waiting on that to go through, I thought to myself, there has to be a faster way to get our people and this building water. After all, I already had the concept and idea of what would be needed. I immediately decided to start calling different distributers in the Anchorage area. We ultimately came up with a plan of building an arctic pipe ourselves using different materials, right away, for only $4,000.”

Due to the innovative thoughts and immediate actions of a handful of Airmen, the Alaska Mission Operations Center not only had water within two days, but there was a cost savings of almost $20,000.

“Military engineers rely on their civilian counterparts for continuity, which is a key component to accomplishing our mission,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joshua Madison, 773d CES section chief of water and fuels systems maintenance. “Our civilian engineers are technical experts whose knowledge and experience are crucial to the development and training of our Airmen. Additionally, engineers are vital to finding innovative methods which get the mission done in smarter ways, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars. Mr. Gill is a shining example of this, and his expertise has been invaluable to the 773d CES mission.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.