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Container fire demo

By Maj Keith J. Eble
First published in
SFOR Informer#103, December 20, 2000

Banja Luka - For many servicemen on operations in the Balkans, temporary accommodations, often a container, is a fact of life. Recent events in MND-SW have highlighted that without the correct safety procedures in place this accommodation could so easily be a cause of their untimely death.
"Since I arrived in July, I considered highlighting the danger by organizing a fire demonstration for the multi-national force based in Banja Luka Metal Factory," said John Simons, Fire Services Assistant Divisional Officer in Banja Luka. "There had been a number of fires in England involving polyurethane foam panels of which containers are constructed and containers here in the Balkans had never been fire tested."
Three recent fire incidents at the Metal Factory convinced Col. Simon Hall, Deputy Commander British Forces, that this demonstration was essential. He gave the project his full support.
From the time of ignition the mocked up container took only six minutes before it was a cauldron of heat and poisonous smoke. The demonstration itself highlighted the need for urgent action when a fire is discovered.
Simons had the following message: "We tried to convey today the dangers that exist if a container catches fire, particularly from the thick toxic smoke which, if inhaled, will kill you. A smoke detector will go into alarm approximately 30 seconds after the fire has started. If you respond quickly enough you will survive. Get out and get the fire brigade out. Make sure everybody in close proximity to the fire has been warned. You can do this by shouting fire and raising the building fire alarm."
Simins offered these simple Fire Safety Tips that could save your life and those of your comrades:
1. Ensure that you have a smoke detector fitted within your room.
2. Check that it works once a week
3. Replace the battery every six months.
4. Do not smoke in containers.
5. Do not have open flames within containers, e.g. candles.
6. Unplug all electrical equipment that is not in use.
7. Do not use any radiated fires.
8. Do not dry clothes on heaters.
9. If you discover a fire raise the alarm.
10. Only if it is safe to do so should you try to put out a fire yourself.

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