With winter on the horizon 21st CES is snow ready

21st Civil Engineer Squadron snowplows stay at the ready for snowstorms on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. 21st CES has 15 plows to clear base streets and the airport runway. (Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

21st Civil Engineer Squadron snowplows stay at the ready for snowstorms on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. 21st CES has 15 plows to clear base streets and the airport runway. (Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron goal during winter months is to ensure roads are safe for all personnel when it snows at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. To meet mission requirements and still take the best possible care of people during inclement weather, 21st CES has 15 snowplows with four of them dedicated specifically to the airfield.

“We augment roughly 60 Airmen and train them for snow removal before the winter months,” said Master Sgt. Kyle O’Hara, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron heavy repair superintendent. “We have them work 12 hour shifts to help keep the roads clear. Some of our snowplows have interchangeable attachments. They switch between plows, blowers and brooms depending on the conditions.”

For roads on base, 21st CES puts green stakes in the ground to let drivers know where the curbs and islands are located to prevent accidents and street damage.

“They’re mainly for the plows because we’re constantly hitting (curbs and islands),” said O’Hara.

Prior to a snow storm 21st CES puts ice melting products on the roads to prevent snow from sticking.

“We have priorities for snow removal with priority one being emergency access routes and the parking apron for the aircraft,” said O’Hara. “Priority two is all of the main streets and priority three is all of the parking lots and side streets.”

21st CES, 21st Security Forces Squadron and the base weather flight monitor weather conditions and report to the 21st Mission Support Group commander. The 21st MSG commander makes recommendations to the wing commander and a decision is made about base closure or delayed reporting.

For purposes of reporting during inclement weather, base members will be designated as either essential or nonessential.

Essential personnel are the minimum number of people needed to keep critical operations functioning until additional support arrives. Nonessential personnel are those who could be delayed for short periods of time without serious mission impact.

Delayed reporting authorizes nonessential members additional time to safely report to work. The 21st Space Wing commander initiates delayed reporting when off-base driving conditions require additional time to arrive safely and gives on-base snow removal teams time to prepare the base for normal activity following a major winter storm.

Phased early release allows for nonessential personnel to depart their duty location at a specified time before the end of the duty day. Early release will be passed through unit commanders and completed in 30-minute intervals helping to reduce traffic leaving the Peterson AFB.

O’Hara askes that people refrain from accessing Peterson AFB during delays or base closures so that 21st CES can properly remove snow without interference.

“It makes snow removal a lot easier when people are off the roads,” O’Hara said.

For information on delayed reporting and base closures call the Peterson Snow Call line (719) 556-SNOW. Peterson AFB members can also access the Peterson AFB, 21st Space Wing Facebook page, receive alert text messages through the AtHoc system and @PAFBalert on Twitter, or local news agencies and radio stations.