Joe Semones wb.jpg

Joe Semones, Fort Drum garrison safety director, talks about the Army 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report) Explosives Safety Program on March 1 during the Community Information Exchange inside the USO. Fort Drum safety personnel are informing the public about the program by integrating it into unit briefings and forums. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Fort Drum personnel inform military, civilian community members about explosives safety

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 3, 2023) - Encountering unexploded ordnance, or UXO, is not an everyday experience at Fort Drum or something community members likely think about often.

3Rs Safety graphic.jpgAnd this is why members of the garrison and division safety offices are promoting the 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report) Explosives Safety Program on post.

“Because it’s not an everyday occurrence, people may not always be thinking that the odd-looking object they just saw may be UXO,” said Joe Semones, Fort Drum garrison safety director. “The 3Rs program was developed to educate Soldiers, family members, civilians and contractors in our communities about the potential hazards of military ammunition and explosives, and what to do if they are encountered.”

If someone encounters a known or suspected munition or UXO, they should mark the general area - without moving closer to the object - and call 911 to report the location to authorities.

"It could be a shiny item, or a rusty object partially buried in the ground," Semones said. "Don't touch it, pick it up or disturb it in any way. Just make the call."

Semones recently spoke about the 3Rs program at the Community Information Exchange, a monthly in-person and livestream forum where directorate representatives update the public on installation activities and events.

He said that community members can be proactive about UXO education by visiting the 3Rs program website at where they can download material specifically for children and families, for communities, and for civilian employees. The site contains fact sheets, safety guides, posters, videos, and other educational resources.

Key takeaways on the 3Rs safety program include:

  • Munitions and UXO can be encountered anywhere, especially near a former or active military training range, or places where combat occurred, such as Civil War battlefields. It is important to realize that old age does not make them safer.
  • Munitions and UXO vary in type, size, shape, age, and condition. They may not even look like munitions if they are used, corroded, damaged, or partially buried in the ground or underwater when found.
  • Simulators and practice munitions may contain explosive charges that can cause injuries. So, even items that are marked as “dummy” training aids are still considered dangerous.
  • Collecting souvenir munitions is dangerous, regardless of their appearance. Consider every munition to be UXO. For this reason, you should never pick up anything known to be, or suspected to be, a munition.

In 2019, Fort Drum was one of 10 Army installations selected for the 3Rs project team to implement the program. Installation-specific 3Rs educational resources were developed and provided to Fort Drum last May, with a train-the-trainer workshop conducted in October.

The 3Rs has been incorporated into unit and garrison safety briefings, and Semones said that they are working to promote the program this year at a community event to reach a wider audience.

Last October, members of an explosives ordnance company on post met with school children at the Fort Drum STARBASE Academy to talk about their jobs and how they are trained to dispose of UXO (see related article at

Additionally, the Garrison Safety Office is inviting directors and supervisors to attend a 3Rs safety class on April 5.

For more information about the 3Rs program, call the Fort Drum Garrison Safety Office at (315) 772-4674 or 772-0310 or visit