Horsham LRS committed to gas mask compliance, cost-saving efforts

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
  • 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
The 111th Logistics Readiness Squadron is ensuring all 111th Attack Wing gas masks are receiving proper testing, while saving time and money, during a two-week program here that began March 1.

The 111th LRS is utilizing the help of the government-contracted Joint Program Executive Office-Chemical, Biological Defense Enterprise Fielding and Surveillance team located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, which specializes in function testing Department of Defense gas masks.

"When an installation can prove that it has the need for the [Fielding and Surveillance Team's] service, they can apply to have them come and assist," said Master Sgt. Joe Sommers, the 111th LRS material management flight chief. "In our case, most of the mask inspections were going to be due in the summer, we had a couple JSMLT (Joint Service Mask Leak Test) machines out for maintenance and our manning was down.

"We tossed around a couple of options about how to tackle the situation."

Sommers and his team used research and networking to discover an option that exists for installations in similar predicaments. By doing so, the Guardsmen found a fielding and surveillance team whose mission it is to conduct on-site inspection of assets and materials - like gas masks.

The squadron submitted the request to the National Guard Bureau and quickly received approval.

Within nine working days, the three-person team projects it will complete testing on nearly 750 of the M-50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask issued to members here. This efficiency far exceeds what can be accomplished by a single member testing masks individually on a solitary machine.

Tech. Sgt. Robert Custer, a 111th LRS supply technician, said that the squadron could probably complete 20 masks per day in perfect conditions. In that case, it would take almost 40 days to complete all the masks.

"It takes our JSMLT machines about 10 to 15 minutes per mask, not including breaking the mask down, installing it on the machine and then assembling the mask after testing is complete," said Custer. "We figured that having the team here saves us around $22.00 per man hour, totaling to a savings of about $6,200.00."

He continued by saying that this number doesn't reflect incidences of machine failure, which can cost the Wing upwards of $2,000 per breakdown.

Also, testing 20 masks per day would require that members forego all other duties and solely perform mask testing.

"It's unrealistic for us to be able to just conduct mask testing all day," said 111th LRS Supply Technician Senior Airman Igor Karlov. "That would have a negative impact on the other tasks and requirements we have to complete for base personnel. While we'd be able to do it, it would affect our production and mission on a larger scale."

The NGB-funded program aims to ensure that the 111th ATKW's M-50 masks will avoid becoming overdue for a two-year period. This buys the squadron time - until 2018 - to acquire the trained manpower and equipment needed to repeat the testing.

The fielding and surveillance squad plans to not only complete the mask testing, but also help the 111th LRS hone their efficiency and effectiveness on the JSMLT machines.

"We're going to give a four-hour block of training next week," said John Patchan, JPEO-CBD Enterprise Fielding and Surveillance team leader for Team Tyndall.  "If you don't keep tabs on this (mask testing), it can sneak up on you. And in that case, a unit may find that they can't catch up. So, we want to set people up for success after we leave."

Patchan, who has worked with many military units throughout the world, stated that he was impressed with the condition, care and maintenance of the gas masks he has seen here.

While the 111th LRS embraces the accomplishments of acquiring the top-notch team, they plan to be postured for continued compliance.

"We're fortunate to have this team here to help us stay on track," said Custer. "But as a unit, we're even more fortunate that we have dedicated and capable Guardsmen who can take this project over and keep it going. We fell on hard times for a bit, but now we're getting caught up with manpower and training our people. This is a good project all around."