By Douglas DeMaio, USAG Bamberg Public AffairsJune 25, 2009
BAMBERG, Germany -- Installation Management Command is focusing on raising awareness of negligent practices that lead to inadvertent fires.
Through its fire safety campaign, which ends Oct. 31, IMCOM wants to turn around a recent spike in this year's fire-related incidents.
"This safety campaign is a major thing for us," said Brigitte Holland, a fire prevention inspector for Bamberg's Fire and Emergency Services. "We are promoting this because fires cost the installation a lot of money."
In the first six months of 2009, the Army had 130 fire-related incidents with property losses exceeding $13.6 million, which averages a little more than $100,000 per incident.
Although IMCOM-Europe's fire safety record has improved from 113 fires reported annually in 2003 to 30 in 2008, IMCOM-E is emphasizing the prevention on common practices that cause fires such as unattended cooking or candles.
The campaign educates installation personnel on identifying potential fire hazards and implements safety measures to reduce the risk of fires.
"Most of these fires are caused by people forgetting about their food," Holland said.
"They will start cooking and leave the house."
Having flammable items next to the stove like oven mitts or oil-based products can turn flames into infernos, costing the government several thousands of dollars in cleanup and repairs.
One incident on Warner Barracks this year should cost the garrison an estimate $10,000, she said. Although the inadvertent fire was small and damage costs were minimal compared to the average cost this year, poor judgment could have turned the small fire into an enormous one that cost the garrison several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Smoke detectors are a good device used to prevent a fire or warn people to evacuate a burning building, but some people may detach the device or not inspect it to make sure it's working properly.
All barracks, common areas and facilities will have the fire detection systems inspected semi-annually to make sure the systems are working properly, Holland said.
Fire prevention equipment is inspected on a regular basis.
Many of the initiatives listed in the campaign are common practices such as fire drills, but Fire and Emergency Services is adding a few new things, Holland said. Many fire drills are expected to take place until Oct. 31 and fire extinguisher training is being implemented.
The training is to provide installation personnel with an understanding about fire extinguisher uses and types of extinguishers stored in buildings throughout the military.
Water, foam and CO2 are common types of extinguishers purchased by the military, but if used on the wrong type of fire, the extinguisher can make a bad situation worse.
Warner Barracks has ABC type fire extinguishers, which are all class-type extinguishers used for electrical, flammable liquids and ordinary combustible type fires.
"This type of extinguisher is good for all situations," Holland said.
Another change made in the campaign is the addition of a fire marshal.
Each organization will appoint on orders a responsible person to be a unit or activity fire marshal. The person can designate subordinate personnel as building, facility or unit fire warden.
The purpose of the fire marshal is to have a person to serve as a liaison with Bamberg's Fire and Emergency Services. This person is trained in evacuation procedures and to provide the fire department with timely and accurate information.
Although most military personnel are familiar with 911, the emergency number for Warner Barracks is 114 from a DSN phone, she said. Calling from a commercial phone, the number is 0951-300-114.
For those who may be tempted to call the local German fire department in an emergency because they live outside of Warner Barracks, Holland said they should call the above commercial number rather than 112.
"In an emergency situation, people may panic and be difficult to understand, which could cause some problems," she said.
The language barrier could also contribute to a difficult exchange of information, she said. German first responders provide fire response services, so whether you're on post or off-post, Bamberg's Fire and Emergency Services translates and passes on the information immediately to local fire response services.
When calling the emergency line, Holland said, it's important to provide clear and concise information known as the three Ws.
*Where is the fire'
*What is burning'
*Who is calling'
It's important to stay on the line to provide updated information and remain at the site until emergency responders arrive, she said.