Fort Sill_It has been one week since the Army ordered 98,000 Army barrack rooms inspected at bases worldwide - Fort Sill among them - to ensure their rooms are safe for our soldiers. Controversy began when the father of a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, photographed dismal conditions at the barracks there. The soldier's father created a YouTube video detailing the conditions of the living quarters of the soldiers. It showed paint peeling and falling from exposed pipes, mildewed ceilings, and stopped up shower drains. Sewage appeared to cover the bathroom floor.
Fort Sill allowed 7News to check out some barracks on post Thursday. "When we first moved in here, the rooms were pretty bad," says Private First Class Nicole Fitzgerald. "There was mold everywhere, on the ceilings, down the walls..." That was just over a year ago, but Fitzgerald says her commander had the problems fixed right away. In fact, she says her barracks on post is really not a bad place to live. "No lighting issues, no toilet issues, nothing..."
Garrison Commander Colonel Robert Bridgford says that the conditions seen in the YouTube video aren't indicative of living conditions in the barracks at Fort Sill. "It's obviously disturbing video to watch, fortunately we're not in that case," he says. Bridgford says the good condition of their barracks doesn't have much to do with the Army's order to do a worldwide barracks inspection. "A lot of work has gone on in the last few years," he says. "It's not just since this weekend's activities."
Bridgford says Fort Sill has spent over $21 Million since 2006 in barracks renovations and new furniture. "I think we have good barracks," he says. "They're barracks I'd be comfortable putting my son or daughter in." Fitzgerald agrees - she has been to four different posts in her military career. "As far as all the ones I've been through, this is probably one of the nicest," she says.
It isn't easy to keep the barracks maintained. The average age of some of the facilities on post is 47 years old, with some of them dating to 1911. "They're old buildings, and they'll continue to develop new problems," says Bridgford. "But we're going at it aggressively." One improvement Fort Sill is pursuing is the installation of standing seam metal roofs. They say it will help alleviate a lot of the problems that they've seen on post.