On Sept. 7, Fort Irwin United States Army Garrison Commander Col. Kurt Pinkerton spoke to an audience of approximately 200 community members about three M116 grenade simulators found at Fort Irwin Middle School last week and the response by fire department personnel, law enforcement and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Soldiers.
The pyrotechnic training simulators were the type used by Soldiers of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin to provide the sound and flash required in the realistic training scenarios presented to Rotational Training Units. The simulators look similar to extremely large firecrackers (cylindrical cardboard devices); however, they are ignited by a process that requires pulling on a string, instead of lighting a fuse.
A simulator was discovered on Sept. 5 and again on Sept. 6, prompting appropriate and immediate responses to maintain the safety of children and staff at FIMS. At no time were children in danger, said Pinkerton.
An investigation resulted in a Soldier and Family member identified as being associated with the incident. Information garnered from the interview process led to an additional sweep of FIMS on Sept. 8, when a third simulator was identified. On Monday, Sept. 10, the school along with EOD personnel conducted a full sweep of the campus and a fourth simulator was discovered. This along with a simulator that was discovered on a road in the Sandy Basin area on Sept. 3, accounts for five hand grenade simulators mentioned during the ongoing investigation.
“These events are not linked to a greater threat,” Pinkerton said. “There is no intelligence or reports of any additional threat. This entire situation is merely a child gaining access to items they should not have access to and making a very poor decision.”
The Silver Valley Unified School District and installation leadership authorized military police K-9 personnel and dogs to patrol the school through Sept. 12. Soldiers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, who is a unit partner of the school, have provided a presence at the school.
Pinkerton said that new operating procedures will be briefed with school officials and emergency services on post. New procedures will be tested at each school prior to the 2012 winter break. Rehearsals incorporating the new operating procedures will be sustained as a standard process between Fort Irwin emergency services and schools on the installation.
Additionally, COL Pinkerton is establishing a unexploded ordnance (UXO) information and educational page on the Fort Irwin website.
“It’s important that we all talk to our children about the dangers of any unexploded ordnance, stressing the only response is to report when found and remain away from them,” Pinkerton said. “Our children’s safety is our primary concern and we will continue to work together to provide a safe educational environment at all the schools on Fort Irwin.”