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22nd LRS ingenuity saves time and money

(Courtesy graphic)

(Courtesy graphic)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The inconvenience of having to drive off base to refuel a government vehicle may seem like just that: an inconvenience. But 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron personnel recently conducted a study to prove this refueling process was more than just an inconvenience, it was also wasting valuable resources, and they decided to take action.

Under a government mandate, U.S. Air Force vehicles are required to use alternative fuel as long as it is available within five miles or a 15-minute drive of the base; standards that McConnell barely meets when exiting through the west gate, which is only open during certain hours.

This means that a majority of the time, vehicles had to be taken out the main gate even though it lies outside of the limitations of the required E-85 fuel station.

"It was a huge pain for a lot of the units like maintenance, security forces and others with a lot of vehicles because it would kill their time and manning," said 2nd Lt. Kathryn Gossner, 22nd LRS deployment and distribution flight commander.

Every year, for the past several years, the 22nd LRS has submitted a waiver up to the Vehicle and Equipment Management Support Office that, if accepted, would allow government vehicles to fill up using fuel available on base. Every year, their request has been denied.

This year, the unit decided to conduct a study to prove just how much time and money was being wasted by taking vehicles off base to fill up.

"The latitude and longitude of parking locations of assets was provided by each unit's vehicle control officer/vehicle control non-commissioned officer," said Roger Shellenbarger, 22nd LRS vehicle fleet management specialist. "This provided the exact distance to the nearest alternative fuel location."

After compiling data and analyzing results, the 22nd LRS team estimated the off-base refueling process was costing the Air Force approximately 1,700 labor hours, which equated to about $25,500 in direct labor costs a year.  In addition, just the drive to and from the nearest fueling location cost nearly $7,000 a year. 

After years of going through the traditional procedures to submit a waiver through VEMSO, 22nd LRS leadership decided to make a phone call directly to the Department of Energy and present the study results in hopes of having the denied waiver overturned.

"McConnell was the only installation ever to contact the DOE on this issue, and we were the only one that's been approved after we were declined," said Maj. Robert Magee, 22nd LRS commander. "We were declined, and we wouldn't take no for an answer. We fought it, and we won."

Although the approved request is only good for one year, plans are in the works to keep vehicles from having to refuel off base ever again.

"We have a project that our civil engineering superstars are working on to actually have an [E-85] tank on base by fiscal year 2016," said Magee.

The hard work and long hours put in by 22nd LRS personnel proved to be worth it for the specific units they service by giving back more than 1,000 man hours to Team McConnell.

"We are a customer support organization, and we do put customer service as a priority within the 22nd LRS," said Gossner. "Making sure that we are taking care of our customers and hearing their needs and concerns is very important to us."