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FOD awareness 'everyone's responsibility'

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- It may be hard to imagine a small pebble or slivers of metal causing damage to the premier aircraft scattered about Air Force flightlines, but millions of dollars worth of cumulative damage over time to the Air Force's aircraft inventory has made senior leaders believers in foreign object damage. 

Tech. Sgt. Jose Sanchez, 36th Wing Foreign Object Damage and Dropped Object Preventative Program manager, ensures Airmen are well-educated on the havoc FOD can wreak on the mission. 

"A FOD-conscious community is one that sets high standards to minimize damage caused by foreign objects," Sergeant Sanchez said. "A FOD-minded community conducts daily FOD walks, runs FOD bosses and ensures sweepers are utilized extensively to [keep] even the smallest items off our airfield. Accountability, integrity, focus and intolerance for non-compliance to our standards is our focus to a FOD-free community." 

Airmen use FOD checks in addition to FOD walks on the flightline as tools to minimize FOD hazards not just for the aircraft, but for the operators and fellow maintainers as well.

"If one of our team members finds foreign object debris on the airfield before it is ingested by a running engine, then that team member has saved thousands to millions of dollars, or [even] a human life," Sergeant Sanchez said. "Money isn't everything. People fly, operate [or maintain] these pieces of equipment and can put their lives at stake. This is why it's gravely important to conduct routine FOD check and walks." 

In a report filed by the U.S. Air Transportation Association documenting FOD frequency covering 1992-1994, 73.4 percent of FOD found was considered unknown hard FOD, 12.7 percent was wildlife, 10.2 percent was ice or known hard FOD such as a screw, 3.4 percent was soft object FOD and .2 percent was caused by lightning. An incentive program is in place to reward Airmen's diligence and watchful eyes. 

"Our FOD preventative program offers monthly FOD fighter awards and one FOD poster award per quarter," Sergeant Sanchez said. "The certificates are signed by the 36th Wing vice commander which is to certify a one-day pass. [Winners are also] presented with a $10 [Army and Air Force Exchange Services] gift card and a $10 services bucks certificate." 

Sergeant Sanchez insists FOD awareness doesn't rest on his shoulders alone. Each unit has an appointed FOD monitor, but the burden of FOD fighting is shared throughout the wing. 

"It is everyone's responsibility to ensure our wing is FOD-free, from operator to maintainer, civilian or military," Sergeant Sanchez said. "It is our goal as Team Andersen to ensure our wing is FOD-free. We are committed to doing just that!"