News: Stryker soldiers embrace fire safety
Story by Spc. Thomas Duval
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Before a soldier deploys to a foreign country they undergo countless hours of classes aimed at improving their awareness for the hazards that lay ahead.
Unfortunately much of the training focuses on hazards outside "the wire."
A relatively new fire warden training course held for the soldiers deployed to Afghanistan is trying to reverse that trend by giving soldiers the knowledge to prevent the dangers within the confines of the Forward Operating Bases that house thousands of soldiers yearly.
According to David Kirkpatrick, a fire inspector and engineer with DynCorp International, the training objective is to improve soldiers awareness for their surroundings.
“There are things soldiers overlook that have become part of their daily routines that could seriously harm themselves and the soldiers around them,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are trying to change those habits to be more pro-safe.”
Approximately 45 soldiers assigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, attended the course to become the newest class of fire marshals May 28.
The soldiers will be responsible for monitoring their individual tents and ensuring that the 12 to 24 soldiers that call the shelter home are abiding by a number of safety regulations. The newly appointed fire marshals are required to do monthly inspections on electrical outlets, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.
“We want to reduce the possibility of an incident by ensuring the soldiers abide by the safety codes,” said Albert Rowe, the assistant fire chief for FOB Lagman.
The instructors focused much of their attention on issues that many soldiers don’t see as violations such as "daisy chaining" power cords and overloading circuits.
The message that was driven home by the fire prevention specialist was one of simplicity.
“If you’re not using it unplug it,” the team said.
According to tests a tent can completely burn down in just over two minutes making the awareness and responsiveness of soldiers vital to the survival and prevention of unnecessary loss Kirkpatrick said.
The Army signed into affect the fire prevention policy; on Nov. 1, 2010 putting infuses on fire prevention. Army regulation 420-1 supports the new policy.
Implementing a safe environment for soldiers whether on the battlefield or on their free time is something Kirkpatrick accredits to the Army’s proactive approach to safety.