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Attention Former and Current KBR and US Military in Iraq

(Note to bloggers and website owners-Help me get this word out. Please link to this post.)

I have been contacted by a National US news program that is looking for people who are willing to share their experiences about the electrical conditions in their camps. Electrician experience is always welcome but you don’t have to be an electrician to tell your story. If you were/are in the Military the producer knows how to deal with that as well?

Can you answer any of these questions?

  • Have you ever been shocked? Or did you know of anyone that was shocked?
  • Were you in any camp that reported an accidental electrocution death such has the death of Chris Everett or Ryan Maseth?
  • What condition was your electrical in? Was is “jerry rigged”?
  • Was KBR responsive to service orders or maintenance requests?
  • Did KBR ever leave an electrical shock hazard as “not repairable”?
  • Did your electricians complain about not having the right tools or material to make a repair?
  • Were your electricians Americans?
  • Did your electricians seem competent?
  • As an electrician, were you asked/forced to work outside of your classification/area of expertise?

You may think your information is insignificant. But it could be the one piece to the puzzle that is needed. There have been 100’s of thousands of people, civilian and military, in Iraq since 2003 and yet only a handful have come forward.

It’s time to tell your story. Please forward this post to former and current KBR employees and US Military in Iraq.

Either leave a comment or send an email to mssparky@mssparky.com and ask me to forward your information to the Producer.

Ms Sparky

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11 Comments

  1. Comment by mommadona:

    Will do, and thanks for the heads up.

    ONWARD!

  2. Comment by gottago:

    Consider it done!!

  3. Comment by waleao:

    While I was there the only wireing problems I saw were the wires that were used in the existing Iraq buildings. By our standards most were not up to par. Of course from my understanding of what happened the military insisted on living in these buildings. As for any wiring installed by KBR in camp I did not see anything other then subpar wire from Turkey that shorted out. BTW I am an electrician and engineer. I did see other items that were subpar but not electrical. Cal and my camp, slayer, was the best camp in Iraq for KBR service and water so I did not get to see what was reported. We had a strict electrical, fire and water program that was followed in most cases.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: Thanks for the response. I’m glad things at your camp were good. Sounds like you took good care of them. A personal thanks from me!!

  4. Comment by Duncan,M:

    I was all over Iraq for 41 months, you have to remember lots of portable building where not made in the good old U.S.A.
    But one day I was in a very new MWR building at camp TQ when a curcit breaker to a AC unit tripped someone says to the staff to just resat it. Well the staff did the correct thing and call help thru KBR OPS and the electians where there in about 30 minutes and found a melted wall sucket, replaced it, and the AC unit was keeping us cooooool.

    I have had the oppertunity to call for electrical help several times while in Iraq and found the personel very professtional in their service.

    I feel very bad for anyone losing their life I had 6 friends killed in action in my travels around the country.

    But nobuddy kicks ass without tanker gas,
    and KBR delivers it.

    Ms Sparky Responds:
    Thank you very much for your comment. Camp TQ is that Camp Taqaddum? I remember all too well that the living quarters (hooches) trailers were just garbage. That MWR problem very easily could have caused another electrical fire. It appears you are home. Are you military or private contractor? Regardless, I’m glad you made it home safely.

    Thanks for reading.
    Ms Sparky

  5. Comment by unionguy:

    I was over in Iraq for 18 months on one of the “Enduring Bases” I am a Master Electrician and the stuff i seen i couldn’t believe at first.

    I had to go to every CHU(contained housing unit)and hardwire the AC cord because the plug was rated half of the amps of the AC which caused numerous shorts and fires. The hard buildings was a different story, we wasnt allowed to work on the hard buildings only give advice to the marines which of course they ignored. At the time i was there we was all Americans with TCN’s helping us, but i heard they have hired alot of Bosnians since i left.

    I have one story that i will never forget, there was a surge tent city that got used whenever a unit rotated in. It was built before i got there and built by Iraqi’s, I was only responsible for the ab units not the main panel or the sub panels that feed the tent and the ab units. One morning a KBR plumber called me saying his TCN’s were getting shocked while working on one of the ab units, which i found hard to believe at first because i check all my ab units everyday and they had GFI protection.

    So i drive up there and sure enough im reading voltage to ground from the sink to ground, but it is fluctuating wildly i use my tick tracer to verfy that the water tank is energized(it was a plastic tank thats how my tracer can pick it up). I was totally confused the GFI wouldnt trip, the voltage would come and go. I started to backtrack the feeder to the subpanels to the tent city and i found out that all the ac frames were energized with vary voltages that changed when AC’s were on or i turned Subpanels off. I finally traced it to the main panel that got fed from a 2 meg generator, the cable the iraq’s used is 4 conductor with a multiple ground wires wrapped around it, much like a seu or ser cable here in the states, but they cut the grounds off so which electricians should know causes all kind of problems and a hot went to ground which is how we first known about it.

    I immediately shut down the tent city, which upset the marines, but i knew it was a matter of time before some one would die. I radioed my boss and told him what was going on, he agreed with me totally and backed me up. I recommend that we totally rewire the tent city but they argued that would take too long so what i ended up doing what would be illegal here in the states under our code. I started at the end of the tent city and started bonding everything including the neutral and ground bar in the sub panels pushing the voltage back to the main where we found the shorts and seen the arc flashes in the panels when we grounded the neutral and ground bars. At the main i used a huge clamp around the cut grounds to bond the ground to the proper terminal.

    It solved the problem but it should never had occurred in the first place with proper supervision of the subcontractors. For all those other guys who worked over than and knew we was underpaid, I just talk to a recruiter who said Journeyman get $10000 and she wouldn’t tell me how much Master Electricians get paid only more. But they might be lying like they did before.

    The guys i worked with were great, but was we all equal? no, i got paid the same as a guy who couldn’t wire a house. I did get the hardest jobs to do, but we should have made more than the guys who cleaned the shitters.

    I guess KBR learned their

    Ms Sparky’s Response: Where are the Enduring Bases? Thanks so much for such an in depth detailed comment.

  6. Comment by paracluster:

    They used plastic cups to cover were they joined wires! I was wlaking in my hooch at night and tripped on the connection and it freakin blew up and melted the cup. No injury, but it was crazy.

    Ms Sparky’s Response: This is ridiculous!! Further investigation found out this occurred at Camp Slayer and in Habbaniya (sp).

  7. Comment by DC:

    I know, and was involved in an incident in the IZ where an entire trailer was wired wrong. nothing was grounded and the grounding bus was charged itself. I stayed way past my shift to work with the only (back then) night shift electrician. These H-frame trailers had been installed in late 03 early 05 and done by, yup, turkish subcontractors.

    The Major (USA) came in joking about hoe at his age, it was nice to get a rise without using a pill (impotence joke) but not while he was in the shower.

    I am not an electrician but I followed his instructions until we rewired both sides, the bathroom, and the back panels. In the back, the flow from this trailer to the others on the next row was 320V.

    I do, however fully understand why the company would say “not our fault”. Having been at the sour end of federal hearings, (much as O&M never rarely is), I can verify that the State Department (my task order) will and has fully come down claiming contract violation for “doing the right hing” even when it wasn’t billed to the client. Yes, it has to get recorded but all records become automatic billing. Going above and beyond is a violation for Federal Acquisition Regulations. The end result?— people get FIRED and the company gets gigged a penalty —- all in the name of going above to to that little extra for the client.

    Stop blaming the Contractor. Thats what I say to the media, place the blame squarely where it belongs. On the Army Contracting Officer (ACO), SIGIR, DCAA, and DCMA. If any of you spent as many years as I did over there, you no doubt have been personally told to NOT do things that you wouldn’t bat an eye at normally. Every possible activity has been itemized by every Task Order renewal. The client chose to not include these items. If we broke that, we’re in violation.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    I really would like to know what camp this was. Getting shocked in the shower was all too common. I couldn’t agree more about the oversight issues. Thanks

  8. Ping from Iraq electrocutions higher than previously reported « The Defense Base Act Blog:

    […] to safety conditions in Iraq.  She is looking for former contractors and military personal to share their observations regarding electrical safety at […]

  9. Comment by OMGYME:

    A competent electrician in Iraq is not a misnomer, but I saw enough to make me back away every time one came around to complete a SOR. I once watched a FN cut a live wire, throw sparks everywhere, ruin a breaker, and endanger everyone around, all because he was angry because I asked him to put on his PPE if he was working in my office. Prior to the cutting of the wire, he proceeded to yank down “old” (and by old, I mean the fixtures that I pointed out to him had the burned marks on them where they would get so hot as to even smoke sometimes) fixtures with no goggles, gloves, etc. and when they broke, because why would you detach something the right way when it’s easier and more fun to rip it down, damaging the ceiling in the process, it threw shards of plastic at those of us working in the area. That is just one of the MANY horror stories I have from working in Iraq with KBR for 3+ years. I saw human trafficking, enormous amounts of waste and abuse (I can’t personally say I saw much fraud, little smidges of it rolled down to my level occasionally, but not much that I could put a definite finger to), moral debauchery (participated in and condoned by everyone from the lowly Labor Foreman, all the way up to the PM), neglect and disregard, retaliation, and the worst corruption of morale I have EVER seen. I think KBR employees for the most part get to their duty station ready to do their part and make things better, but are slowly ground down by the conditions. Not the elements, but the unqualified, don’t give a rats behind about anyone but themselves, who they can get into bed with next, and the bottom line, management. And God help me, I survived the Materials department, we don’t even want to go into what a nightmare just that section is. Thanks for your part in enlightening folks on some of the crap served up by the connex full over there. BTW, my husband is still there, still working to make things better, and is right in the middle of the electrical scandal, as the one who was brought in to clean up the mess. He’s trying but they continue to tie his hands and reduce effectiveness by changing up policy and procedure almost daily, but never changing the deadlines, even when the guys have to start over from scratch. It’s ridiculous and inhuman what these people are subjected to.

    Ms Sparky’s Response:
    Wow. Thanks for all that personal insight! I totally know what you mean. You go over all enthused wanting to do a good job. I was a little slow to catch on. It was day 15 for me before I realized…..”Something’s not quite right here.” They beat you down and beat you down and beat you down!!!

  10. Comment by hardtowatch:

    Here is another one for you to check out, Ms. Sparky. You won’t believe it, but it’s true.
    Many electricians will tell you that the majority of problems were Iraqi buildings with sub-standard wiring and breakers….it’s true.

    As a maintenance supervisor, my own electricians had to re-wire ALL of the the 1,160 trailers’ a/c units because of melted wires at the outlets. Also, the lights in the ceiling had a wire too close to the bulb and melted, a couple of times, causing minor fires.

    There is also another little known incident that occured. I mention it because I haven’t seen it anywhere in the comments I’ve read.

    While I was at Camp Blackjack, sometime around Christmas 2003 (or shortly afterwards) KBR erected a large tent, wired it with electricity, and cleaned up the area. This was to serve as a detention area for captured Iraqis. The large tent with electricity was built at a cost of 250,000 US dollars. Thirty minutes after this tent was inspected by KBR’s QC department, the tent caught fire (with NOBODY around) It was discovered to have an electrical short. THE TENT BURNED COMPLETELY DOWN, VERY VERY QUICKLY.
    Again, 100% fact, sad but true.

    And yes, there are some good people working for KBR. Many of them show up to do their jobs dilligently, but OMGME said it best, they eventually become beaten down by KBR management. I am NOT a disgruntled employee. I have had absolutely NO problems with them for the 2 years I worked for KBR because I affectively avoided any and all behavior inconducive to my goals. But, the truth DOES need to be told. I don’t personally have a problem with Scott Mount, Wingait or any of his other cronies. (by the way, both of them were standing there at the raging fire as the 1/4 of a million dollar tent burned down)
    I am thouroughly convinced that absolutely nothing will be done to deter KBR from getting away with the same kinds of waste, fraud and abuse they have become so accustomed to, since they have friends in very high places.

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