AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy. --
A fire hydrant, damaged by an unsafely driven forklift,
leaked water onto an office building’s parking lot. The water froze over and
the next day an Airman slipped and broke their arm.
This real world scenario, recalled by Master Sgt. Victorio
Gutierrez, 31st Fighter Wing Safety superintendent, cost the wing time, money,
Luckily, the 31st FW Safety Office is focused on mishap prevention
and response. Their mission is to safe guard Airmen, protect resources and
preserve combat capabilities.
“The mission is the priority, safety is our value,” said
Gutierrez. “Priorities change, our values don’t – just like safety.”
They accomplish their mission through mishap prevention, a
concept fixated on preventing accidents so Airmen can serve in a safe and
It’s a proactive approach that saves units money, equipment
and man hours that would be lost if an accident were to occur.
Safety professionals manage safety programs for all units on
base. In order to do this, the office is comprised of three sections; Weapons,
Flight and Occupational Safety.
“We have different personalities that come from different
backgrounds,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Hauser, 31st FW Weapons Safety manager. “We
all have the title of safety but we have different specialties to do.”
Each section has a different area of responsibility. Weapon
systems and aircraft maintenance Airmen fill special duty positions within
Weapons and Flight Safety. Occupational Safety is comprised of Airmen who
cross-trained into the safety career field. Regardless, they share some similar
duties like facility and safety program inspections, training Airmen and advising
The 31st FW Safety Office set themselves apart from the rest
during the 2018 fiscal year. They were awarded the United States Air Force
Europe-Africa Commanders Trophy on top of two more major command level awards.
“We wanted to step out of the norm so we focused on what
matters,” said Gutierrez. “We worked to achieve our goals of reducing mishaps,
giving more safety outreach training and we provided more recommendations to
They also aided in safe guarding one of the biggest priorities
of the wing, earning them a U.S. Air Force Outstanding Achievement Award.
Their accomplishments led to an outstanding weapons surety
rating, a reduction in lost duty time, less severe injuries and a standardization
of safety processes for units on base.
After a very successful 2018, they hope to keep the momentum
going in the new year.
Gutierrez said, “We’ll continue to work on our
programs and continue to take the lessons learned from last year and just apply
it to this year to improve our processes.”