Yongsan units maintain their focus in wake of fire
Stars and Stripes March 25, 2006
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Quick schedule adjustments and office equipment installations let both units affected by last week’s fire keep up with their work routines, according to the units’ leaders.
“We’re doing fine,” Lt. Col. Paul Legere, who heads the Area II Support Activity Directorate of Public Works, said Tuesday.
The biggest challenge, he said, was coping with the fire’s psychological impact. “Our employees were … in quite a bit of shock. Some of them have 20, 30 years’ experience,” he said.
Two maintenance outfits with almost 400 Korean workers — the Directorate of Public Works for Area II and the Korean Service Corps 9th Company — lost work equipment, clothing and personal gear, supply records and office furniture, commanders from both units said this week.
Three corps workers also were burned in the fire.
“Fortunately, they are doing better,” Legere said early this week. “This is a tragedy for the KSC. We can’t replace people. I can’t over-emphasize that enough.”
“There’s concern for the family members,” the corps’ commander, Lt. Col. Robert Paquin, said Wednesday. “The entire battalion has come together to help them.”
Paquin and Legere said the corps lost its 9th Company headquarters buildings and DPW lost two buildings in which repair orders were processed and some Area II maintenance was done.
Since the fire, leaders from both units have been helping their staff recover, move and re-establish a work routine. By Wednesday, both DPW and the corps had set up new offices in the Yongsan area and had resumed their major duties.
Both staffs also were creating an inventory of losses. For the corps, that involved mainly office equipment and personal work clothes and gear for the workers.
The DPW offices lost much more, Legere said Tuesday. In addition to basic office equipment, much of its heavy machinery and repair equipment and all of its supply records were destroyed.
Luckily, he said, equipment stored on nearby vehicles was not damaged and Area II had no significant emergency calls for repairs after the fire. The staff’s housing repairs headquarters is in a different location, so that service was unaffected, Legere said.
Because almost all of the workers directly affected are South Korean, Army claims officials have brought in translators to help explain how they can get compensation for the losses of their personal items, Legere said.
By Tuesday, DPW had returned to answering calls for maintenance, he said, though the requests still will be prioritized based on need and safety. The only service suspended for now is sign-making, Legere said early in the week.
The corps was able to keep up its normal duties throughout the days following the fire. Services it provides include driving school and on-post buses, carpentry and paint upkeep that supplements the DPW work, according to Paquin.
The DPW does the majority of maintenance for Area II, Legere said, and he praised his workers for quickly adapting to the challenges in the past few days.
“They are the ones who keep the lights on in your office, the air conditioning running,” Legere said.