Back to the lab again

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
The thought of just one base sifting through millions of gallons of fuel annually, is one that seems methodical and of wit and whimsy. But the reality is, that because of the hard work asserted by one group of individuals in particular who are entrusted with this vital task, the defining mission of a base remains steadfast.

At MacDill AFB these individuals are Air Force fuel laboratory technicians and the art of fuel science is what they specialize in. These chemists are in charge of the more than seven million gallons of jet petroleum 8 (JP-8) consumed and transferred by the base annually.

"When it comes to the testing of JP-8 we most commonly test five major categories: high solid levels, excessive water, proper color, fuel system icing inhibitors, and corrosion inhibitors," commented Staff Sgt. Craig Bratcher, 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron lab tech NCO in charge.

This extreme attention to fuel detail is imperative; just one imperfection or anomaly in its makeup can be detrimental to an aircraft or the mission that it's delegated with.

"At first I didn't truly understand the importance or significance of my job as it relates to fuel perfection," said Bratcher. "It wasn't until I saw firsthand where an aircraft was unable to take off due to improper fuel conditions, that it began to resonate--now I have a much better prospective of what the quality of my work means."

Being that Bratcher is one of only two lab techs currently at MacDill, staying on top of the more than 350 annual delivery truck inspections and the dozens of quality checks of the seven million gallons of filtrated fuel is critical.

"Although the workload is never-ending, it feels good knowing that my labor is so important to the mission," commented Staff Sgt. Dunae Nathaniel, 6th LRS lab tech. "This is what motivates me day-in and day-out to be the best at my job."

As MacDill continues to be the premiere wing for providing and enabling global strike and global reach, and delivering world class distinguished visitor airlift and tanker capabilities to the joint war fighting commanders, the members of the 6th LRS fuels section remain ready. Ready with the fuel that enables the fight.
Air Force fuel laboratory technicians are simply the best at what they do and after being hand selected amongst their peers, they undergo hundreds of hours of specialized training at the Petroleum Laboratory Specialist Fuels Quality Control Course at Fort Lee, Va.

Once certified and a special experience identifier (SEI) is given, their amount of responsibility and importance to mission significantly burgeons.

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