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NMCB 74 Electricians Provide Electric Life

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100208-01
Release Date: 2/8/2010 8:37:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan G. Wilber, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 Public Affairs

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74's construction electricians' expertise helps maintain quality of life in Helmand Province.

Beginning with just a drawing and roll of electrical wire, NMCB 74's construction electricians bring a newly constructed building to electric life. The electrical plans are drawn by the lead electrician assigned to each new construction project using standard symbols and following a standard layout, but each plan is tailored to meet the functional needs of the space.

"I design [the electrical drawings] myself based on what the customer's needs are for the building," said Construction Electrician 2nd Class Alyssa Copp, Charlie Company lead electrician.

Everyone on the crew initially works together to build the walls and place the trusses, but once the walls are up, electricians perform their specific duties. According to Copp, wiring a building requires specialized training and knowledge of the National Electric Code (NEC).

"As long as you know the basics that you've been taught in "A" school, you can get the job done pretty well," said Copp who went on to say that experience is a plus. "The more you do it, the more repetitive it gets, and it gets ingrained in you. It's good to be able to use your skills."

According to Construction Electrician Constructionman Patricia Escobar, electrical crew member, it is important for the crew to keep each other informed about their progress to avoid rework.

Wiring a building in the desert can often be logistically challenging, and desert summer temperatures must always be kept in mind even when working during the winter, rainy season.

"A lot of times we have to think outside the box," said Copp. "Normally eight circuits go to a breaker back in the States, but we use six because of how hot it gets out here so we don't overload the circuit."

The process of wiring a building is relatively safe. No electricity will run through the wires until the wiring is complete and ready for testing.

"When they are installing the wiring in the building they don't have live power, it's all completely dead. So, as far as actually installing electrical systems, it's pretty safe," said Utilitiesman 1st Class Jason McBrayer, command assistant safety officer.

Following the correct wiring procedure however, is imperative. A spark-producing electrical malfunction can cause a quick catastrophe to a dry wood structure during the summer heat.

"If there is anything faulty in it, the building is gone relatively quick considering it's in an all wood structure. If something should happen, it is going to catch fire," said McBrayer.

"A lot of people find electrical work monotonous, because you are doing the same thing. You're building another (Southwest Asia) SWA-Hut, installing more receptacles, and the process gets repetitive, but I don't mind," said Copp.

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