As days get cold, 2nd ID troops reminded to practice fire safety
CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Ten seconds was all it took for flames to destroy a U.S. Army tent and everything in it.
The tent, pitched on open ground near the air assault tower in the Hovey Cut, was purposely torched by Area I firefighters while hundreds of soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division’s Fires Brigade looked on last week.
The fiery demonstration was aimed at burning cold-weather safety into the young soldiers’ minds, Fires Brigade safety officer Daniel Orta said.
Winter is just around the corner and soldiers participating in exercises soon will find themselves in the field trying to keep warm in extremely cold conditions. Soldiers in South Korea often sleep in tents heated by diesel-fueled stoves, he said.
“We want to stress the importance of having a proper fire watch: people awake all the time to operate fire extinguishers,” he said.
If a tent catches fire, soldiers should leave their gear behind and get out fast, Orta added.
“If you are on fire, drop to the ground and roll,” he said. “Hopefully, somebody will be standing by with a fire extinguisher.”
One of the soldiers watching the demonstration, Sgt. 1st Class Brad Bynum, 43, of 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, said the stove in his tent caught fire last winter.
“All of a sudden it flashed,” recalled the New Orleans native. “Luckily somebody was right there with a fire extinguisher.
“Once we had put the fire out and dragged it outside we found that the fuel line running from the carburetor into the stove had burned in half. It was leaking. Had somebody not been there right next to it it would have burned town the whole TOC (Tactical Operations Center).”
Fires Brigade assistance operations officer Maj. Curby Scarborough, 34, of Savannah, Ga., said Thursday’s demonstration was aimed at teaching soldiers the right procedures for staying warm in the winter and stopping people from falling asleep on fire watch.
6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment operations officer Maj. Charles Mills, 38, of Charleston, S.C., said the catalyst for the training was an incident two years ago when a tent burned down at an Area I range.
“A soldier tried to refill a stove with fuel while it was still running,” Mills said. “The proper procedure was to go outside, wait for the heater to cool down and then refill it. He wanted to do a shortcut and just poured the gas into the heater inside the tent while it was still on.”