Prizren, 19 May 2017
Sniffing out potential threats in industrial plants in Kosovo is one of Major Ulrich Michael H.’s main jobs. The senior CBRN officer advises the commander of the 46th German Contingent in the Kosovo Force.

(© Bundeswehr/PAO KFOR)
In Kosovo, technical visits to companies handling toxic industrial material (TIM) are conducted at intervals. These TIM inspections follow a set programme. Before the inspection proper, the inspectors need to access and examine the company’s papers. Then, accompanied by the company’s owners or technical experts, they take a tour of the site. For this stage, the inspection team have to take the very strictest safety precautions. They inspect all production sites and storage areas fully outfitted in anti-CBRN protective gear, including the gas masks they affectionately know as “Schnuffis”.
The multinational inspection team is made up of members of the Kosovo Security Force and KFOR. Major Ulrich Michael H. of the 46th German Contingent is deputy head of the TIM inspection team.

 “Having studied chemistry is a massive help in this job”

(© Bundeswehr/PAO KFOR)
As Ulrich Michael H. puts it, identifying dangers and knowing the relevant industrial plants and their locations is an essential part of a CBRN officer’s job. “Having studied chemistry is a massive help in this job, as it means I can assess and identify potential dangers beforehand.” It can’t all be done without support from Germany, however. When more detailed analysis and evaluation is required, the team calls on the CBRN corps via reachback. To assist the TIM inspection team, the CBRN corps completes certain stages of the work back in Germany.

The real work begins after the inspection visit

(© Bundeswehr/PAO KFOR)
The overriding objective of these inspections is to introduce a civil-protection strategy for the whole of Kosovo. A strategy to protect people, animals, plants and the wider environment is the focus here. The inspections therefore represent an important cornerstone, as each inspection and subsequent report must be followed by the introduction of suitable measures. This means examining contingency plans as well as fire safety and evacuation measures on the basis of the threat assessment. Health and safety measures as well as labelling and signposting of chemicals and different areas within the company premises also need to be inspected. The company owners are furthermore issued with guidance, including proposals for drawing up plans showing the threat radius, the way to the nearest hospital and/or the coordinates of a suitable helicopter airfield.

Capacity building

(© Bundeswehr/PAO KFOR)
In Germany, these jobs are done by the fire brigade and civil protection agencies; in Kosovo, the multinational inspection team is picking up the slack. (image: Bundeswehr/PAO KFOR)

In Germany, jobs like this tend to be undertaken by the fire brigade and civil protection agencies. Kosovo’s fire brigade does not yet have the capacity to perform these preventive duties on its own. The Kosovo Security Force has therefore assumed the role – but its personnel still lack adequate training and practical experience. The long-term goal of these TIM inspections is to train these forces so that the Kosovars themselves can do these jobs independently in future – with European and German high standards as their benchmark.

This is the translation of an article by Pijetlovic/Becker published on

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