Marines in North Carolina Investigating Fire Issues at Camp Lejeune

June 19, 2008

Three former and current employees of the Camp Lejeune, N.C. Fire Department alleged that smoke detectors and fire alarms are not being inspected and maintained at the base, putting Marines and others at risk.

The employees reported widespread maintenance problems within the department in a letter sent to the base’s inspector general’s office, The Daily News of Jacksonville reported June17.

“Sprinkler systems have no water, fire alarm pull boxes do not work and fire panels are disabled,” said Joshua Bowers, the employees’ Washington-based lawyer.

Camp Lejeune spokesman Major Nat Fahy said an internal investigation into the claims has been under way since June 4 at the expansive base on the North Carolina coast, which is home to roughly 50,000 Marines. Fahy did not say how long the investigation would take.

“The commanding officer takes any claims of mismanagement that threaten the safety of base residents with the utmost seriousness,” Fahy said. “He and his staff are thoroughly engaged on this situation.”

The three fire department employees said in their letter that at one of the base’s elementary schools, the fire alarm blows a fuse if it sounds for more than 20 seconds and then fails to signal the fire department. In one of the barracks, they said, none of the smoke alarms work. Many of the problems were reported but never fixed, the employees said.

“Right now, we are just trying to fix the threat to people on base,” Bowers said. “I hate the idea of the Marines not being taken care of.”

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