Fort Greely is nestled in the wilderness of central Alaska, about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Known as one of the coldest areas in the state, the Fort Greely Army base now serves as an integral part of the nation’s extensive network of the Ballistic Mission Defense System (BMDS) and is classified by the U.S. government as a National Security Asset. A key base to the strategic interests of the United States Army, Fort Greely serves as a testing center for military units needing to train in extremely cold weather.
During the Cold War, Fort Greely was considered a vital location for the U.S. Army from a geographical standpoint, and since the terrain and climate of that region was similar to that of the former Soviet Union, it was classified as an official U.S. Army Arctic Test Center. Troops would train in the area to prepare themselves for a possible ground engagement with Soviet forces. Following the end of the Cold War in the 1980’s, there was a gradual drawdown in numbers of soldiers stationed at Fort Greely, but today, it still maintains a total work force of over 1,000 folks. That figure includes military, civilian, contractor, and supporting unit workers. There are over 1,600 residents at Fort Greely who make up this special military community.
Alaska being one of the least populated states in the union naturally has some challenges to overcome when trying to attract and retain residents of their state. One of the ways Fort Greely has drawn and retained a good number of people to central Alaska is by offering a lot of community activities, including educational opportunities, nature hikes, community bowling nights, fishing trips, and snowmobiling – just to name a few. These activities are important for military communities, not only because of the connections that they foster by bringing the community together, but they also help residents appreciate the natural beauty of their surroundings – in this case, the interior of Alaska.
Downhill and cross-country skiing are other activities in which residents of Fort Greely can participate. One requirement for these specific activities is of course, snow. Needless to say, this particular type of precipitation is abundant in Alaska; however, surprisingly in that region, residents occasionally need to create their own snow to indulge in these beloved wintertime activities. This is where the Chicago Pneumatic CPS 375 portable air compressor comes in.
Since 2012 didn’t break any snowfall records by a long shot, the management at Fort Greely decided that once the temperature dropped, they were going to provide downhill and cross country skiing to their residents regardless of whether there was natural snow or not. The folks at Fort Greely contacted Rick Thompson, sales manager at Jackovich Industrial & Construction Supply and told him what they aimed to do.
After going over some ideas with Derek B. Miller, Regional Sales Manager for Chicago Pneumatic Construction Equipment, the folks at Jackovich and with CP’s help came up with the ideal solution. “They wanted an air compressor to blow snow that could handle the extreme cold of our region,” explained Thompson. “Of course we recommended Chicago Pneumatic’s reliable and powerful CPS 375 model.” The unit that they were interested in needed to be rugged and able to withstand extreme cold – both criteria that Chicago Pneumatic’s CPS 375 portable compressor met with ease.
Another requirement for Fort Greely was that it needed to be able to move from point to point, depending on where they wanted to spread the snow. “It’s as simple as hooking it up to a trailer hitch and going,” said Thompson. “The CPS 375 is a decent-sized unit, but it sure doesn’t feel like much when you’re hauling it around.”
Apart from making sure that the product would perform according to Fort Greely’s needs, Jackovich Industrial & Construction Supply was also charged with mounting two custom-made reels on the compressor. Before it was ready to send out, one more modification needed to take place in Jackovich’s Fairbanks shop. The hoses in the compressor needed to be able to withstand the chilling Alaska winters. The Parker hoses that were outfitted in this particular unit are able to withstand temperatures of up to -70 degrees Fahrenheit without cracking or leaking, while still maintaining their flexibility.
This is nothing new for Jackovich Industrial & Construction Supply, considering the fact that it has been a solid fixture in the community for over 40 years. Known throughout the state as the one-stop-shop for any equipment needs, Jackovich carries popular product lines like Chicago Pneumatic, Graco, and Stihl. With locations in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Wasilla, Jackovich has a proven track record of service and support for customers throughout the entire state. “Very seldom is there a request that we can’t handle,” explains Thompson. “We have built great relationships over the decades, and when people need to set up a shop, they know who to call.”
The folks at Fort Greely did just that.
On site at the Army base since last November, the CPS 375 proved to be useful during the winter of 2012 and 2013. “It sure was cold enough, but we just didn’t get a whole lot of precipitation,” explained Thompson. “Those are prime conditions for snowmaking. Quite often, we have a scenario where the temperature will allow for wintertime activities, but the natural level of precipitation just won’t let that happen.” The folks at Fort Greely decided to fix that, and will most likely continue to offer this activity to its residents for years to come, thanks to the team at Jackovich, and their trusted CPS 375 compressor.