The Garrison Command team and other representatives from Garrison directorates check in with their organizations, confirm generator capabilities and monitor activity on post during the power outage exercise May 6 in the Emergency Operations Center in Garrison Headquarters. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer

Fort Leavenworth Garrison conducted a power outage exercise to test backup capabilities and emergency preparedness from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 6 on the northern portion of the installation.

During the power outage, the Emergency Operations Center received minimal calls and recognized potential deficiencies in generators and across power grids. Personnel conducting the exercise emphasized that part of the success was from preparation and awareness beforehand, which may not accurately represent a disaster environment.

Sgt. Matthew Gillman, traffic investigations, 500th Military Police Detachment, Special Troops Battalion, directs traffic to and from the northern portion of the installation during the power outage exercise May 6 at the intersection of Grant and Reynolds avenues. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“I think overall the exercise was a great success,” said John Hughes, director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. “It was a success because we were able to restore the power with zero issues to the installation, and the exercise afforded us the opportunity to identify backup generator shortfalls for mission critical needs.”

Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Don Miller, utility system supervisor for the Directorate of Public Works Operations Maintenance Division, is responsible for maintaining the generators on post. He said the exercise allowed him to check each generator and know they will function properly during a real emergency.

Miller explained each substation powers a designated section of the overall power grid on post; when the substations are off, the installation relies on generators for backup power.

Linemen from FreeState Electric Cooperative Inc. power up Fort Leavenworth Substation No. 3 under Directorate of Public Works supervision during the power outage exercise May 6 at the intersection of Biddle Boulevard and Pope Avenue. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Miller explained power shortfalls on the installation may include over-sized generators. For example, he said when a generator has a large capacity to power a building but less load or use, its fuel is not burned efficiently. Fuel can then build up in the exhaust pipe of a generator and present a hazard.

He said the long-term solution for that issue includes rewiring a building during renovation and increasing the load on a generator.

Hughes said following feedback from the exercise, the installation will identify an improvement plan to share with the necessary units and develop working groups to ensure progress before future tests.

“(The exercise is) extremely important because we live in the Midwest where we’re known to have extreme weather events, which could be a cause for a power outage. I think not just the mission but the community members need to be prepared, not just for the workplace but for their families as well,” Hughes said. “It’s important for all (community members) to make sure they’ve planned and prepared.”

Hughes said the exercise is typically an annual event and that the installation is considering larger-scale exercises within the year.

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