Spokane Journal of Business

Fairchild skips roof replacement, cites huge savings

Air base instead repainted iconic hangar’s big cover

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-—Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous
A $1.7 million project at Fairchild Air Force Base involved repainting and repairing the massive roof on World War II-era hangar. The new finish is expected to add 15 year to the roof’s life span.

Balancing today’s readiness with tomorrow’s modernization isn’t an easy task, but the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron figured out a way to do it and saved $8 million along the way.

Working closely with contractors, Fairchild engineers developed a plan to repair and repaint, rather than replace, the roof of one of Fairchild’s most iconic buildings—the 92nd Maintenance Group’s maintenance hangar complex.

The hangar, built in 1942, was mainly used as a repair depot for damaged World War II aircraft and is now home to the bulk of Fairchild’s KC-135 Stratotanker maintenance operations.

Lt. Col. Jason Campbell, the 92nd CES commander, says the fiscal savings engineered by his military and civilian personnel alike enable the Air Force to invest those dollars in other areas across the service’s wide gamut of operations.

“With shrinking budgets and fiscal constraints, we need to look at innovative and cost effective ways we can maintain the installation’s infrastructure so that it can continue supporting the mission today and well into the future,” the colonel says.

This project is one of many designed to update Fairchild’s facilities as the installation seeks to become the Air Force’s “center of excellence for air refueling.”

The hangar’s roof is more than 25 years old and the existing paint finish has nearly worn off to the galvanized finish underneath.

“We had two ways to fix the roof,” says Mike Harper, 92nd CES construction manager. “Either replace all the metal on the roofing or repaint it.”

Replacing the metal roofing was estimated at about $10 million, while repainting the existing roof would cost approximately $1.7 million. The new finish adds 15 years to the roof’s life span and comes with a manufacturer-backed warranty.

“The process the workers go through is simple,” Harper says. “They have to pressure wash the roof first, getting it down to the bare metal. They then spray down epoxy primer and finish with a brown coating.”

In addition to painting the roof, the contractors also inspected all the screws and panels, ensuring the roof is in the best condition possible. Harper says a lot of repairs were made before putting the new coating on so the roof wouldn’t leak.

He says the intent of this project was to make necessary repairs to the 25-year-old existing metal roof over the four aircraft maintenance bays and save some money along the way.

“We have to be good stewards with the taxpayers’ dollars,” says Campbell. “We do this by making every dollar count and spending our money wisely across every engineering project.”

Reprinted with permission from the July 3 issue of the Fairchild Flyer newspaper. Northcon Inc. Construction Inc., of Hayden, Idaho, was the general contractor on the project, and Empire Roof Coatings, of Spokane, was the paint contractor.

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