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CHAPTER 11

SAFETY PROCEDURES


11-1. RESPONSIBILITIES

AR 385-63, Chapter 11, implements the chain-of-command safety concept. Under this concept, the firing battery chain of command is responsible for safety during firing, training, and combat. This chapter reinforces AR 385-63. However, if local range regulations are more restrictive than the material in this chapter, the local range regulation must be followed. Specific responsibilities for safety are fixed as discussed below.

a. Commanders of Field Artillery Units Commanders establish and maintain a safety training and certification program for their personnel. The purpose of this program is to train and quality individual members of the firing battery in the safety procedures for their specific areas of responsibility. When the responsible artillery commander is satisfied that the individual members are qualified to perform the safety duties as required in the firing battery, he certifies them as competent to perform those duties. Sample tests for qualification of safety personnel are in Appendix O.

b. Battalion Commander. The FA battalion commander is responsible for safety during all phases of a firing exercise under his control. The commander selects, trains, and certifies the personnel necessary to assist him in discharging this responsibility. These personnel include, but are not limited to, the firing battery commander, executive officer, fire direction officer, firing platoon leader, chief of firing battery, gunnery sergeant, FDC chief computer, and howitzer chief of section. If any position is not filled by a command safety-certified person, another person who is certified and qualified to fill that position performs the safety checks.

Note: The title of platoon leader and platoon sergeant (in the platoon-based unit) also pertains to executive officer and chief of firing battery/USMC battery gunnery sergeant (in the battery-based unit).

c. Officer in Charge. The officer in charge (OIC) is the battery commander or his command safety-certified direct representative. The OIC is responsible for all aspects of safety in the firing unit and on the assigned firing range. Before the firing exercise, the range control officer provides the OIC the required safety data and any firing limitations. The OIC verifies that the unit is in the proper firing position. He supervises the conversion of the safety data into a safety diagram and ensures that this diagram is verified by another command safety-certified person. The safety diagram provides right and left direction limits, minimum and maximum quadrant elevations for authorized charges, and minimum safe fuze times. The safety diagram, modified as necessary by minimum QE, is given to the appropriate members of the firing battery. The OIC is responsible for ascertaining locations of friendly personnel who may inadvertently be exposed to artillery fires. He ensures dissemination of this information to subordinate XOs, platoon leaders, FDOs, chiefs of firing battery, platoon sergeants, gunnery sergeants, and chiefs of section, as appropriate, so they are aware of potential situations which might result in fratricide.

d. Firing Platoon Leader. The firing platoon leader is responsible for the safety practices of the firing element. He will ensure that the chiefs of section have safety data. He determines the lowest QE that can be safely fired from his firing position and ensures that projectiles clear all visible crests (min QE) (see Chapter 6). He is assisted by the FDO, platoon sergeant, and the gunnery sergeant.

e. Fire Direction Officer. The FDO has primary responsibility for computing safety data and ensuring all safety diagrams are updated after registrations and receipt of current met data. He is responsible for plotting the impact area on a map or chart in the FDC. He is assisted in his duties by the chief computer. He ensures all firing data are within prescribed safety limits before they are sent to the firing sections. He adjusts minimum QE for intervening crests.

f. Platoon Sergeant. The platoon sergeant helps the platoon leader in his duties. He performs many of the platoon leader's duties in his absence. His main responsibilities are laying the platoon, performing the duties as platoon leader, and working in shifts with the platoon leader.

g. Howitzer Section Chief. The section chief supervises all practices that take place at or near his weapon. These include verifying that the announced safe data are applied to his weapon and that the proper charge, fuze, and projectiles are fired. He has the final responsibility for the firing of his weapon.

h. Range Control Officer. The range control officer gives the OIC of the firing unit the following safety data:

  • The grid coordinates of the firing position.
  • The lateral safety limits.
  • The minimum and maximum ranges.
  • The authorized ammunition to be fired (fuze, projectile and charge).
  • The maximum ordinate (high angle or low angle).

  • The hours during which the firing may be conducted.

11-2. DUTIES OF SAFETY PERSONNEL

A separate battery safety officer is not required during the firing of field artillery. Normally, the platoon leader will perform these functions. The platoon leader is not required to verify all data placed on the on-carriage fire control equipment. He may use safety stakes, safety tape, or physical constraints on the weapon to ensure that the safety limits are not exceeded. All key personnel must be thoroughly familiar with six references: AR 385-63, FM 6-40, FM 6-50, TM 43-0001-28, the appropriate TM for the weapon, and local range regulations. In case of conflict, local range regulations always take precedence.

Note: These references are guidelines that may be used in developing units' SOPs.

a. Specific duties of safety personnel before firing are, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Verify that the data the range control officer gives the OIC apply to the unit firing, that the unit is in the correct location, and that the data are correct. (OIC and safety officer)

(2) Compute and verify the safety diagram. (At least 2 safety-certified personnel, normally the platoon leader and FDO)

(3) Ensure that all personnel and equipment are clear from surface danger area E before firing (see AR 385-63 for the dimensions of surface danger area E for specific weapon systems).

(4) Check the DA Form 581 (Request for Issue and Turn-In of Ammunition) and range safety card to ensure that only authorized ammunition is fired. (Platoon leader or platoon sergeant)

(5) Ensure no safety violations occur at or near the weapon(s). (All members of the firing unit)

(6) Check the weapons for correct boresighting. (Section chief)

(7) Verify the lay of the battery. (Platoon leader or platoon sergeant)

(8) Compute and verify MIN QE. (Platoon leader or FDO)

(9) Compare minimum QE with the QE for minimum range shown on the safety diagram. Use the larger of the two as the minimum QE. (Platoon leader or FDO)

(10) Verify that the section chief has safety data (safety T). Ensure section chiefs are advised of all friendly personnel in the area that may inadvertently be exposed to FA direct or indirect fires. (Platoon leader or platoon sergeant)

(11) Supervise and check the emplacement of safety aids (stakes, tape, and other devices). (Platoon leader, platoon sergeant, or gunnery sergeant)

(12) Verify that range clearance has been obtained. (Platoon leader or FDO)

b. Specific duties of safety personnel during firing are, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) Verify the serviceability of ammunition. (Section chief)

(2) Supervise key safety personnel in the performance of their duties. (OIC or safety officer)

(3) Verify that the charges, projectiles, and fuzes being fired are only those prescribed on the safety card. (Section chief, platoon leader, or platoon sergeant)

(4) Visually inspect to ensure that the correct shell-fuze combination, time if required, and charge are properly prepared and loaded on each round. Verify that the correct number of remaining powder increments are removed to the powder pit before loading and firing each round. (Section chief)

(5) Verify that rounds are not fired below the minimum QE or above the maximum QE. (Section chief, platoon leader, or platoon sergeant)

(6) Verify that rounds are not fired outside the lateral (deflection) safety limits specified on the safety card. (Section chief, platoon leader, or platoon sergeant)

(7) Verify that time-fuzed rounds are not fired with fuze settings that are less than the minimum time prescribed on the safety diagram. (Section chief, platoon leader, or platoon sergeant)

(8) On all commands that are unsafe to fire, command CHECK FIRING and give the reason(s) why the command is unsafe. (Section chief)

EXAMPLES

UNSAFE TO FIRE, 3 MILS OUTSIDE RIGHT SAFETY LIMIT AND 20 MILS ABOVE MAXIMUM QUADRANT ELEVATION.

and

UNSAFE TO FIRE, 5 MILS BELOW MINIMUM QUADRANT ELEVATION.

(9) Recompute and issue updated safety Ts under the following conditions: (FDC)

    • When a registration is completed.
    • When met conditions change.
    • When restrictions change.

    (10) Suspend firing when any unsafe condition exists. (Any person who sees an unsafe act) Examples of unsafe conditions are as follows:

      • Powder bags exposed to fire.
      • Personnel smoking near pieces of ammunition.
      • Improper handling of ammunition.
      • Time fuze previously set and not reset to safe.
      • Personnel or aircraft directly in front of the weapon.
      • Primer inserted into the firing assembly before breech is closed (separate-loading ammunition).
      • Failure to inspect powder chamber and bore after each round is fired.
      • Failure to swab powder chamber after each round of separate-loading ammunition is fired.

      c. Specific duties of safety personnel after firing are, but are not limited to, the following:

      (1) Verify that unused powder increments are disposed of at an approved place in the correct manner.

      (2) Verify that all unfired ammunition is properly accounted for, repacked, and returned to the ammunition resupply point.

      (3) Verify police of the firing position.

      (4) Verify that all safety Ts are collected and properly disposed of.

      11-3. SAFETY AIDS

      a. From the range safety card, the fire direction officer prepares a safety diagram and safety Ts for use by the safety-certified personnel. Safety aids are used to ensure that only safe data are fired from the position. Two such safety aids are the safety stakes and safety tape. These aids are then used as a visual check to ensure that the howitzer is laid within safety limits.

      b. Emplace safety aids for the M101A1 howitzer as follows:

      (1) Deflection safety aids.

      (a) Set off the left deflection limit on the pantel using the non-slipping scale. Traverse the tube to establish the proper sight picture on the aiming point.

      (b) Place the safety stake against the left side of the tube, and drive it firmly into the ground.

      (c) Mark the right deflection limit in the same manner, but emplace the safety stake on the right side of the tube.

      (2) Quadrant Elevation Safety Aids.

      (a) Set off the maximum QE on the range quadrant.

      (b) Mark the elevation scale with a piece of tape in line with the index mark.

      (c) Mark the minimum QE in the same manner.

      c. Emplace safety aids for the M 102 or M119A1 howitzer as follows:

      (1) Deflection safety aids.

      (a) Set off the left deflection limit on the pantel by using the deflection counter. Traverse the tube to establish the proper sight picture on the aiming point.

      (b) Emplace the safety stake against the right side of the lunette and drive it firmly into the ground.

      (c) Mark the right deflection limit in the same manner, but emplace the safety stake on the left side of the lunette.

      (2) Deflection safety aids (M119A1).

      (a) Lay in the center of traverse (A, Figure 11-1).

      (b) Determine the left limit and traverse the tube to the maximum left. Traverse the carriage right until the tube is at the left limit. Emplace the left limit safety stake as shown in B, Figure 11-1.

      (c) Determine the right limit, and traverse the tube to the maximum right. Traverse the carriage left until the tube is at the right limit. Emplace the right limit safety stake as shown in C, Figure 11-1.

      (3) Quadrant elevation safety aids.

      (a) Use the cam follower as an index mark.

      (b) Set off the maximum QE on the fire control quadrant. Elevate the tube until the bubbles center in the elevation level vials.

      (c) Mark the cam with apiece of tape in line with the cam follower.

      (d) Mark the minimum QE in the same manner.

      d. Emplace safety tape on the M198 howitzer as follows:

      (1) Deflection safety aids.

      (a) With the tube parallel to the azimuth of lay, (deflection 3200) place apiece of tape over the azimuth counter (bottom carriage).

      (b) Set off the left deflection limit on the pantel by using the deflection counter. Traverse the tube to establish the proper sight picture on the aiming point.

      (c) Using a straightedge, draw a line on the tape placed on the bottom carriage directly below the azimuth counter index mark found on the upper carriage. Record the left deflection limit next to that line.

      (d) Mark the right deflection limit in the same manner.

      (2) Quadrant elevation safety aids.

      (a) With the tube elevated at 0 mils, place a piece of tape on the trunnion support, and draw a straight line as an index.

      (b) Set off the minimum QE on the fire control quadrant. Elevate the tube until the bubble centers in the elevation level vial.

      (c) Place a piece of tape on the quadrant mount. Draw a line across from the index line established on the trunnion support. Record the minimum QE next to that line.

      (d) Mark the maximum QE in the same manner.

      e. Emplace safety aids on the M109A2-A5 howitzer as follows:

      (1) Deflection safety aids. These may be marked on the exterior and/or interior of the hull.

      (a) Make an index mark on the top carriage with a piece of tape.

      (b) Set off the left deflection limit on the pantel using the reset counter. Traverse to pickup a proper sight picture on the aiming point.

      (c) Place a piece of tape on the bottom of the carriage directly under the index mark.

      (d) Mark the right deflection limit in the same manner.

      (2) Quadrant elevation safety aids. These may be marked on the exterior or the interior of the weapon. Emplace the safety aids on the interior of the weapon, as shown in paragraph d(2) above. Mark the exterior of the weapon as follows:

      (a) Mark an index on the tube with a piece of tape.

      (b) Set off the maximum QE on the fire control quadrant. Elevate the tube until the bubble centers in the elevation level vial.

      (c) Place a mark on the top carriage in line with the index mark.

      (d) Mark the minimum QE in the same manner.

      11-4. SAFETY COMPUTATIONS

      a. Information on manual safety computations is in FM 6-40, Appendix B.

      b. Safety can be computed by computer, using the automated range safety system (ARSS).




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