Ready to receive: housing the force

  • Published
  • By by Airman 1st Class Zachary Bumpus
  • 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

An aircrew wearily climbs from their plane, the country they are in is unfamiliar and the comforts of home are an ocean away.

Despite the foreign soil beneath their feet, they still know a warm bed is waiting for them.

A place to sleep can make all the difference, especially for men and women working long hours during exercises far from home.

When those exercises take place on RAF Fairford, United Kingdom, it’s the job of the 501st Combat Support Wing to make sure the Airmen coming in have a roof over their heads.

“Our mission at RAF Fairford is to support forces,” said Capt. Micheal Poye, 501st CSW Logistics officer. “We get everything set up so that when visiting forces arrive they have somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat and a way to get to work.”

For most of the year RAF Fairford is a quiet base, in a state of hibernation between bouts of intense activity. However the transformation of the installation during exercises and operations is a multi-faceted process designed to ensure the base is ready to handle the influx of Airmen. One of the first things those Airmen need when they arrive is a place to sleep.

Recently, RAF Fairford’s contingency dorms have been undergoing a refurbishment to ensure the base will be able to house and support Airmen for many years to come. The dorms were originally built in 1984, and after 32 years of use they had begun to show their age. The refurbishment, which comes at a cost of $4.6 million, encompasses rewiring, reroofing, reflooring and redecorating for two buildings, alongside an improvement in the buildings wireless internet capabilities.

“It’s all to increase the quality of life for the Airmen staying there,” said Frank Dailey, 420th Air Base Squadron site director at RAF Fairford. “That’s our mission.”

Beyond refurbishment, when RAF Fairford transitions from a lean base to an active base, the buildings have to be brought back to life along with the rest of the base.

“When we’re preparing for an exercise like BALTOPS we have to get the dorms ready,” said Andrew Davies, 420th ABS civil engineer. “We have to run the water system to make sure there’s fresh water, check the fire extinguishers and clean the building. Then, once all of that’s been done, services can come in and provide them with bed linens.”

Without a place for visiting forces to stay when they arrive, RAF Fairford would not be able to support the global initiatives of the U.S. Air Force and to help foster interoperability with allies in Europe as effectively as it can now.