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Saturday, 11 June 2016


FIRE IN CENTRAL AMMUNITION DEPOT PULGAO:FEW RECOMMENDATIONS Dear Defence Minister Few points for your consideration. The army has been banging heads against the wall & shouting from the rooftops about poor quality of ammunition being supplied. Why is it that we never heard of Ammunition accidents with such alarming regularity when we were junior officers? Its because there was a very, very stringent quality check regime in place. The Controller Quality Assurance (CQA(Ammunition) would be involved at each stage of the manufacture process right from the stage of procurement of raw material by the Ammunition factories up to the finished product. They were ruthless & all of us benefitted. The Ordanance Factory Board (OFB) then got around the powers that be & got the DGQA out of the loop by assuring them,that they were well capable of carrying out the inspections themselves. Obviously they could not and are still incapable of doing so as the CAG Report and many other reports raised by the Ordance Directorate will testify. There are a few retired DGQA officers who know the nitty gritty of these problems. We wish someone can pick their brains even now. Hope now at least the MoD realises their blunder & gets the DGQA back into the inspection process. Few Brave Men Who Saved The Day Next, these mines were segregated because there has been exudation of TNT. That is why they were kept locked up in a proper ESH i.e. Explosive Store House made to absolutely correct specifications as laid down by the CFEES i.e. Controller of Fire & Explosives Safety, a DRDO org. They were stacked correctly and were well short of what that ESH ought to have been holding. What we have heard so far is that one of the sentries saw smoke seeping out of the shed at about 0130h & raised the fire alarm. The fire crew immediately rushed to the spot. The Officiating Comdt (the Comdt being out of station), the Adm Officer & the Security Officer rushed from their homes while the others too followed. They then did something incredibly brave. They opened the door & went into the shed knowing the consequences fully well but also with the knowledge that if they didn’t do so, there was a possibility of the fire spreading and engulfing the entire depot. While the Adm Offr & the youngster along with 17 other fire crew paid with their lives, the Offg Comdt is in the ICU when we heard last. If not for this courageous action of theirs, the damage would have been incomprehensible.(THIS IS BY WORD OF MOUTH.YOU MAY CROSS CHECK IT) There is no way a labourer or for that matter any civilian would be smoking a beedi near any Ammunition stack. There are no matches, beedis or cigarettes permitted inside the Ammunition are of any depot. They're BANNED. There has never been a single case of this happening in any of our depots or even when disposal activities are carried out. All are well aware of the drills & NO ONE flouts them. With regard to the grass, let me tell you that you will not find grass growing around the sheds. Though a check before summers is called for.The fire safety distances are maintained. But, in certain field areas, there are deviations, all sanctioned by no less than the Army Commaders. These deviations exist as authorised accommodation is yet to come up. These works must progress fast. At the beginning of this millennium, we had approx 50-60% of our Ammunition stacked in the open or in temp sheds. Today, more than 90-95% are held in authorised ESHs. It must be ensured that 100% ammunition must be stored safely say in two to three years.Vice Chief could hold review meetings once in three months to overcome problems at ground level.This was happening IN1999 after three fires in ammunition depots during OP PARAKRAM. We hear a lot of calls for integration of all arms and OFB calls its self 4th arm when it does a lot of propaganda about its existence .The biggest blunder the Def Min has done in allowing OFB to self certify its products. The OFs are not at all bothered about the quality of the products but their aim is to achieve targets and giving over time to their workers (and keeping the unions happy). The army did take up a case for filing criminal charges in Ammunition accident cases where manufacturing defects have been proven way back in 2009-10 but alas it got turned down.The MOD who sat upon the request is equally guilty for this. The COI should recommend all those responsible for this tragedy to be charged with Culpable Homicide, The lives of faujis are not expendable commodities. OUT OF BOX IDEA FOR CONSIDERATION Is there any means of introducing CO2 into the Explosive Store Houses from where smoke is coming out? The norm is that any compartment which houses such quantities of explosives must be made air tight and Carbon Dioxide introduced into that compartment so that the fire is smothered. The quantity of CO2 introduced is two thirds the volume of the compartment. The CO2 bottles should be kept in a compartment just outside the Explosive Store House and any one observing smoke/flames can just releases the CO2 into the Explosive Store House and then raises an alarm. Opening of the doors to the Explosive Store House only introduces more oxygen, which in turn feeds the fire. Water Sprinklers could be used to cool the area down and not fight fire as explosives become unstable at high temperatture. Experts could consider this suggestion Warm Regards Yours Sincerely Brig Hemant Mahajan

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