KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Rhine Ordnance Barracks is a temporary home to the travelers from Afghanistan during Operation Allies Welcome and making sure the facilities they are housed in are safe is the undertaking of the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Safety Office.
The safety office conducts regular walk throughs of the deployment processing center and the life support area to inspect for fire hazards, fall and trip risks, electrical hazards and overall safety concerns.
“We complete these checks regularly,” said Larry Strickland, garrison occupational safety and health chief. “The safety inspection can sometimes be a challenge and we have to be pragmatic because there are cultural differences, and we want to respect that, but we are here to make sure the facilities are safe.”
These walk throughs are one of the primary missions of the safety office for OAW support as they ensure all buildings and facilities do not have safety concerns or environmental hazards that would make it a danger for personnel to occupy.
Inspections are also completed at billeting facilities around the garrison to check that they are operationally ready to house augmented soldiers from other garrisons. A few of the buildings were not used for several years and had to undergo a rigorous examination.
“We need to make sure all the windows and doors open, the water is potable and if it isn’t what the correct solutions are and making sure there aren’t environmental hazards like dead mice and rodent droppings,” said Strickland.
These safety checks are important to the mission as the team is trained to look for items of concern.
1st Lt. Meghan George, a Task Force Home battle captain, said, “we always make sure our facilities are safe, but having a third party come through and take a look confirms that we met all the standards set by the Army and that the families here have a living space that is compliant to Army regulation.”
Walking around the facilities Strickland made recommendations for improvements, offering suggestions like laying down gravel to keep the ground from becoming too muddy.
Referencing the mud, “the wet area can lead to an increase in bugs that can carry disease and in the winter rodents will seek out water from these areas which poses concerns for those living in these facilities,” Strickland said. “It is also a fall hazard if someone slips.”
Continuing through the inspection, Strickland identified items that he and his team previously flagged as a concern and how the area’s personnel corrected the problem.
Pointing to a carbon monoxide detector, Strickland said, “these tents do not always come with the correct equipment. In this case they were missing a carbon monoxide detector. They were able to procure the alarm and correct this safety concern immediately.”
Other things that Strickland looks for is the proximity of portable toilets to living areas, stagnate water, access to potable water and garbage waste collection.
The inspection concluded with a review of items that need to be corrected and a plan of action from the area’s personnel.
“Pointing out areas of improvements, even minor, ensures the travelers, Soldiers and volunteers will have a safe space to live and work,” said Strickland. “This task is no different from our everyday operations throughout the garrison.”