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Whether your doing initial research about military jobs or your Air Force recruiter told you about fuels, here’s a deep dive into Air Force fuels 2F0X1.

An in-depth approach about the job and the sections within it, the special ops FARP team, an average day as an Air Force fuels specialist, and even going through fuels tech school.

Air Force Fuels

Air Force jobs come in all degrees of difficulty, but everyone is in support of the mission. Fuels are no different, it’s contributing to the backbone of the military. There’s a saying in the fuels career field, “without fuel, pilots are pedestrians”. So the essential function of fuels airmen is to issue jet fuel to aircraft on the flight line.

Fuels is an enlisted Air Force job. It’s Air Force specialty code or AFSC is 2F0X1 and has an easily obtainable ASVAB score.

Air Force fuels is actually called POL. Airmen on the outside of the career field know it as fuels, airman working in it refer to it as POL. The POL acronym stands for petroleum, oil, and lubricants.

POL operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

You’ll work 8 to 12 hour shifts depending on which base you’re stationed at. Plus, the job is predominantly done outside in the elements, rain or shine. So expect some cold days in the winter and hot days in the summer.

Your first few years will be spent in an Air Force fuel truck driving around the flight line issuing jet fuel to aircraft, and occasionally defueling them for maintenance reasons. While later into your Air Force career you’ll transition into other aspects of the job like fuels lab, maintenance, or bulk storage.

In order to support the mission, a secret security clearance is required For this Air Force job. Being up close and personal to multi-million dollar jets like the F-35, C-130, Osprey, A-10, and numerous others. Also, a secret security clearance is essential for other aspects of Air Force fuels, like the FARP team.

A highlighted video from airforce.com

Air Force Fuels Job Sections

Distribution The main focus of distribution is issuing fuel in various ways. Some ways include driving a 6000-gallon Air Force fuel trucks called an R-11, or driving an R-12 truck that doesn’t store fuel, it issues jet fuel connected to a hydrant system.

Distribution spends most of their day on the flight line issuing fuel or in the distro lounge waiting for the next set of jets to land.

Fuels Lab This area of fuels is a quality control section, inspecting fuel before it’s distributed to aircraft. The role of lab test the flash point of the fuel, how clean the fuel is, and other quality factors.

Maintenance Air Force fuels isn’t just about fuel. POL also takes care of the necessary maintenance needed on vehicles that issue fuel. Tire changes on trucks the size of a school bus, performing a check of each and every fleet vehicle daily, assuring truck pumps are operational.

Maintenance is an essential part of the job and performed in house.

Bulk StorageBulk storage controls the supply of fuel. Receiving, routing and storing it in the necessary locations. Whether that being transferring fuel to storage tanks or cycling it through a hydrant system to issue to large capacity aircraft.

FSC Air Force fuels service center in the focal point for directing distro to issue to aircraft and documenting fuel transactions. This section of the POL job is performed behind a desk answering incoming fuel requests, accounting, and being a dispatch center.

Administration Higher ranking leadership perform numerous administrative tasks from training and support to running the entire POL flight.

Special Ops FARP Team

Air Force fuels play a special role in the military. A detached team of POL airmen known as a FARP team fall under the United States Special Operations Command.

FARP stands for forward area refueling point.

The Air Force FARP team fly in on a C-130 equipped with fuel bladders into deployed or remote locations where fuel is inaccessible by other means and hot-refuels helicopters at night in support of specialized missions. The FARP team is the real deal, running out of a C-130 in full body armor and night vision goggles fueling up mission-critical assets in potential enemy territory.

Air Force FARP goes through all sorts of specialized training, including Air Force Combat and Water Survival School at Fairchild AFB in Washington.

POL airmen of any rank can volunteer for FARP training as long as you’ve completed upgrade training beforehand.

The Air Force fuels career field is fairly small. In rough numbers, it fluctuates around 5,000 airmen. In 2017 only 2% of fuels airmen were active and fully qualified FARP team members. That goes to show just how specialized and difficult the FARP training and mission is.

With the nature of the job centering around special ops, Air Force FARP teams deploy to remote areas often and in a moments notice. Their skills are in high demand not just within the Air Force, but on a global joint force level.

An Air Force Fuels Specialist Average Day

A typical day as an Air Force fuels specialist is simple, but it’s a grind. You’ll arrive at your shop early and ready to work, “if you ain’t early, you’re late” as they say in the Air Force.

Expect to have a daily briefing that goes over safety issues and the flying schedule to know when jets are taking off and landing. As a young POL troop, your day will revolve around this flight schedule.

After the briefing airmen disperse to do their job. Some will do shift change and swap out with the last shifts drivers on the flight line, others could be going out to do checkpoint with maintenance, and the rest of the airmen are just waiting for the next “run” aka jet to refuel.

Checkpoint is checking over each and every vehicle with maintenance and making sure they operate as normal.

In between “runs” you’ll have downtime. Lots of airmen hangout at the smoke pit, talking and having a cigarette or dip till jets start landing. Others hang out in the distribution lounge.

When that clipboard hits the counter its time for the next Air Force fuels specialist to go to work. All the information you’ll need will be written in the clipboard, like what Air Force fuel truck to use, the location to go to, the jet tail number to issue fuel to.

You’ll hop in your truck, perform a FOD check (foreign object and debris check) before entering the flight line where the jets are. Rocks in your tires are a bad mix around multi-million dollar jets, so remove them beforehand. Then off you go to refuel an Air Force aircraft.

Pulling up to the jet you’ll get marshaled into position to refuel by the crew chief. You’ll get set up and issue up to thousands of gallons of jet fuel into these aviation marvels. Expect to fill jet after jet until you run out of fuel or are told to go back to the POL shop.

If you run out of fuel and there are still planes to fill, you’ll go fill up your 6000 gallon Air Force fuel truck and empty it all over until the planes are finished.

As an Air Force fuels specialist, an entire day could easily be spent on the flight line until shift change happens and your replacement comes. Many of these days will happen.

If you’re lucky, your entire day won’t be spent on the flight line and you’ll hang out until more jets land. You’ll eventually clean up the work area for shift chance. When shift change happens and everyone working your shift is in the building and accounted for, its time to go home.

That’s a typical day working in Air Force fuels. Not the most glamorous job, but it has its perks.

Fuels Tech School

When it comes to Air Force jobs, fuels (POL) has one of the shortest tech school lengths. The Air Force fuels tech school is only 31 days. That’s 31 working days, not including weekends. All together it’s about a month and a half of training at Sheppard AFB.

Sheppard Air Force base is in Wichita Falls TX. You’ll be in Texas for months of training with going through basic training plus tech school. Both are located in the same state.

After graduating from basic training, you’ll go on an 8 hour bus ride up north to tech school. That’s 8 hours and you’ve still never left the state of Texas.

Basic training can seem grueling, so you’ll be happy to have some personal freedoms back with going to tech school.

When I was going through tech school at Sheppard AFB we would do “goodnight POL”. Every night in the dorms, all of us POL airmen would open up our doors at 10 pm and yell “goodnight POL”. It could be heard throughout the entire floor of the building.

Dealing with training, throughout Air Force fuels tech school, basic skills will be learned to perform essential functions of the POL job. Like how to drive a fuel truck the size of a school bus, how to issue fuel to a jet, and other aspects of the job.

Fuels is fairly simple. That’s why there’s so few days spent in tech school compared to other Air Force career fields. You’ll learn the basics, but really build up the skills doing OJT (on the job training) at your first duty station.

Graduating from tech school you’ll be awarded an apprentice skill level and sow your occupational badge onto your uniform. As an apprentice, your AFSC, or Air Force specialty code will be 2F031.

Typically, when leaving tech school you’ll either go home and do the recruiter assistance program or go directly to your first duty station and put your new skills to use.

Related: What happens after tech school?

Air Force Fuels Radio Codes

When doing the Air Force job you were trained to do, there are radio codes used to simplify and shorten communications. POL radio codes are broken down into numbers and each set of numbers means something different.

If you’re on the flight line long enough you could hear someone say, “32 to control, I need to 10-10 for a 10-200.” Rough translation, someone needs to poop.

Here’s a breakdown of some Air Force fuels radio codes used.

  • 10-4 = copy
  • 10-6 = repeat
  • 10-10 = return to the building
  • 10-13 = go to fill stands
  • 10-15 = leaving fill stand with full truck
  • 10-18 = request fire truck at location
  • 10-19 = fuel spill
  • 10-97 = arrived at aircraft
  • 10-98 = finished fueling aircraft
  • 10-100 = need to pee
  • 10-200 = need to poop

Now, there is a hand full of Air Force fuels radio codes not even mentioned, but these are the most used 10 codes.

To Wrap It Up

The Air Force fuels career field operates at numerous base, stateside and overseas. You can go everywhere with this career field. You can be a general POL troop or a special ops FARP team member.

Do you want to be among the POL airmen who yell “who the hell… POL”?

Corey Porter

Corey Porter

Air Force Veteran

Corey is an Air Force veteran and the lead writer at Basic to Blues. He refueled fighter jets as a young airman and deployed twice to the Middle East. Now Corey can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest.

Who the hell… POL!

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