BEWARE OF DAWGS

Richard Pacheco, cable and telephone mechanic, connects wire pairs on a punch-down block to provide dial tone for a customer at the dial central office Tuesday.

Richard Pacheco, cable and telephone mechanic, connects wire pairs on a punch-down block to provide dial tone for a customer at the dial central office Tuesday.

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- When you pick up your phone in your office, or you log on to your e-mail in the morning, did you ever stop to think, “Who makes this all possible?” You have the telephone/cable maintenance shop, where the workers are affectionately called “wire dawgs” and “cable dawgs,” to thank for these capabilities.

The telephone/cable maintenance shop is responsible making sure telephone and data lines are working properly for more than 10,000 customers base wide.

The telephone/cable shop installs telephone and data lines, maintains copper and fiber optic cables in the ground, troubleshoots and repairs telephone problems and maintains the base telephone switch.

For larger projects such as building renovations and new buildings, it coordinates with the planning and implementation flight in the 16th Communications Squadron on how to get telephone and network connectivity to the buildings.

The base gets telephone dial tone from the dial central office, also known as the base telephone switch. The switch is where all calls into or out of the base go, and then are dispersed throughout the base or to commercial telephone carriers.

Approximately a million calls are routed through the switch each month, said Richard Jones, program manager for cable/telephone shop.

The telephone/cable maintainers have kept the switch running at 100 percent capability for more than 11 years, even through hurricanes, said Jim Brown, telephone and cable maintenance work leader.

Along with the regular maintenance it takes to keep the base’s communications lines up and running, the telephone shop handles trouble tickets placed by telephone control officers when users may have problems with their phones or data lines.

The shop receives approximately 20 trouble tickets each week from the communications control center.

In addition, they receive an average of 30 new work orders per week.

When a trouble ticket is received, a technician will try to troubleshoot the problem over the phone first. If the problem cannot be resolved over the phone, a field technician will go out to see what the problem is.

“We normally complete jobs within two to three weeks of receiving the work order,” said Mr. Brown.

By regulation, the shop has 30-45 days to complete a job, depending on its urgency.

Unlike many telephone and cable maintenance shops throughout the Air Force, the telephone/cable maintenance shop here has been manned entirely by civilian contractors for the past seven years.

“I like this job because I get to be outside. It makes me feel like I did something,” said Chris Natali, telephone/cable maintenance mechanic. “When you go home at the end of the day you’re tired and dirty. It feels good.”