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Firefighters respond to dumpster fire

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Airmen from the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight, extinguish a fire in a trash dumpster in front of the PRIDE building here July 21. Airmen responded to the fire within one minute after receiving the 911 call. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. James Breessendorf.)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Airmen from the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight, extinguish a fire in a trash dumpster in front of the PRIDE building here July 21. Airmen responded to the fire within one minute after receiving the 911 call. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. James Breessendorf.)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- A fire broke out in a trash dumpster in front of the PRIDE building at approximately 4 p.m. July 21.

The cause of the fire was the result of a carelessly discarded cigarette, according to Tech Sgt. Robert Kirwan, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of operations and the on-scene commander at the time of the fire.

"We know this because we received an on-scene confession from a remorseful Airman while we were conducting our investigation," said Sergeant Kirwan.

The fire was reported to the base fire department at 4:12 p.m. after a 911 call was made. The first fire truck arrived on scene within a minute at 4:13 p.m. and firefighters began extinguishing the flames.

"The fire was minor due to its location, contents and proximity to the facility," said Sergeant Kirwan. "It was located far enough away that no damage was done to the facility."

The fire would have been avoided if only the cigarette had been fully extinguished, said Sergeant Kirwan.

Following standards of conduct and regulations, Airmen are reminded they should not to be smoking in uniform on base except in designated areas.

Although the sergeant said the fire was minor, dumpster fires can be very hazardous.

"When we respond to dumpster fires we never know what we will get," said Sergeant Kirwan. "I am glad to see that there was nothing seriously dangerous in that particular dumpster to jeopardize the safety of my crews and the personnel observing the event. Items like car batteries and aerosol cans explode, and furniture, foams, plastics and chemically treated items give off toxic fumes."

In addition, the base fire department was able to respond quickly because proper procedures for dialing 911 on base were followed.

From a duty or housing phone people should dial 911; from lodging or the 5th Medical Group, members should dial 9-911, and from a cell phone, members should dial 727-1911.

"When you're in panic mode, 911 is the first thing you think of to dial, it's drilled into our minds, dialing 727-1911 isn't," said Chief Clifford, base fire chief.

"If you are on base and you dial 911 from your cell phone, you will reach the town dispatcher and the town dispatcher transfers the call to us," said Mr. Clifford. "The problem is that time is delayed. More time than needed is spent on giving information."

According to Airman 1st Class Demorris Harper, 5th Medical Group medical technician, all base members and their family members should be familiar with emergency procedures.

"It is important for people to know their emergency contacts," said Airman Harper, "Not only your life, but your family lives are at risk as well."

Airman Harper suggests writing emergency numbers down and placing them on the fridge or in your wallet and even programming them in to your phone.

"Base emergency information is briefed at First Term Airman Center, Right Start and other briefings, but we need to constantly remind people of their emergency contacts," added the airman.
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