Firefighters concerned about conditions at Bragg station
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — Firefighters at a fire station on the Fort Bragg have turned to Congress for help with repairs at a fire station that has a leaky roof, holes in the walls, mold, asbestos and even a fire alarm system that’s not in compliance.
The Fayetteville Observer reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/2nUkmyJ) that inspectors have documented the problems at Fire Station No. 7 since at least 2014. Fort Bragg leaders said they don’t have the money for the repairs, estimated at $3 million to $6 million.
In a letter to U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson in January, firefighter Michael Griddine questioned how Fort Bragg’s fire department was able to fund construction of two new stations while No. 7 falls into disrepair.
“Some of the problems with the station involve visible areas of what appears to be mold, rodent and pest problems, multiple roof leaks throughout the facility, carpets with mildew smell and suspected structural issues,” he wrote. “We are seeking answers concerning the whereabouts of the funds that were set aside to construct a new fire station. We are also requesting a complete hazard/suitability assessment of the facility to include the structural integrity by a qualified, third-party contractor not affiliated in any way with the Army or the Fort Bragg installation.”
Hudson said he has contacted the Army to investigate conditions at the fire station.
“The working conditions described to me are unacceptable,” Hudson said. “I will work with the Army to find a long-term solution to this issue.”
The 20,000-square-foot fire station was constructed on Pope Field around 1956 and has been renovated several times, sometimes by the firefighters.
The Air Force was responsible for the building until September 2010, when the Army took it over as part of the Base Realignment and Closure. At that time, officials said the Air Force recommended the building for replacement.
Since then, hundreds of work orders have been filed for repairs. Last year, 143 work orders were filed for issues with electrical, heating and cooling, plumbing, locks, exterior utilities and pest control, according to records from Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Public Works, which performs repairs.
In the past six months, two complaints about the fire station’s condition have been lodged with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Firefighters are required to be at the station for 72 hours a week— on three, 24-hour shifts — so the building includes a kitchen and private bunk rooms.
The fire station, like all buildings on Fort Bragg, receives money for repairs through the Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization fund awarded through Installation Management Command.
Officials at Installation Management Command review repair projects at 75 installations across the globe and award money based on priority. The priority list contains 254 items totaling $1.3 billion.
Fort Bragg’s Fire Station No. 7 ranks 80th.
Bill Costlow, spokesman for Installation Management Command, said the fire station is an aging building. But he said it has no health, life or safety issues.
“The current state of Army funding requires commanders to make tough decisions,” he said. “Addressing the urgent infrastructure challenges brought on by a decade of underinvestment is IMCOM’s first priority. We are working with the Army staff to request additional funds, and also looking for opportunities to close unnecessary facilities in order to reprogram funds to better support soldiers and readiness.”
Last year, Fort Bragg received $106.9 million in restoration funding. Costlow said Fort Bragg is expected to receive about $109 million in fiscal 2017.
But it’s not enough.
Renovation projects at Fort Bragg would cost about $312 million to complete, said Col. Brett Funck, commander of the Fort Bragg garrison.
Funck said he is challenged with distributing restoration funds to more than 8,800 projects. The fire station is budgeted to receive $60,000 annually for repairs, but in each of the last three years, has received about $400,000.
“We have taken this seriously,” Funck said from a conference room in the fire station. “We have communicated this at all levels. I know the Army understands this and they see it.”
Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com