Fort Bragg Officials: No Health Issues Reported After Mold Found in Barracks

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FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2020, file photo a sign for at Fort Bragg, N.C., is shown.
FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2020, file photo a sign for at Fort Bragg, N.C., is shown. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

No health issues have been reported after reports of mold in barracks on Fort Bragg, officials said.

Soldiers with the 1st Special Forces Command were moved out of barracks earlier this month because mold was reported. They are expected to return to their barracks within 60 days, officials said.

Fort Bragg's Directorate of Public Works is working on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems to ensure moisture and humidity are controlled in the two barracks where the mold was reported to prevent further growth, said Adam Luther, a Fort Bragg spokesman.

Luther said once the repairs are complete, any possible mold will be remediated, and the buildings will be assessed to confirm they are ready for the soldiers to return.

The process is expected to take 45 to 60 days, he said.

The soldiers impacted are part of the command's 528th Special Operations Sustainment Brigade.

Directorate of Public Works employees are working with leaders within the 1st Special Forces Command to ensure the well-being of the soldiers, Luther said.

"Their readiness and resilience are our priorities, and working together ensures that these priorities are being met," he said.

Officials said possible mold was reported in August.

Commanders asked that an industrial hygienist conduct air quality samples in two buildings where the mold was identified.

Once the surveys were completed Oct. 8, the command team decided to temporarily relocate soldiers.

The root cause of the mold, officials said, was malfunctioning heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that elevated relative humidity in the buildings.

"Although not all of the rooms were affected by mold, out of an abundance of caution, the decision to temporarily relocate approximately 200 soldiers was made," officials said.

No medical issues connected with the conditions at the barracks have been reported, officials said.

"Our soldiers' health and wellness is always a top priority for our command, and we will continue to monitor our soldiers' health and ensure, as always, they have access to high-quality medical care," officials said.

Officials said the air quality surveys showed elevated levels of relative humidity in the barracks, indicating the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems needed to be repaired to prevent mold growth.

The buildings where the mold was found were built in 1976 and 1981, and the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems were last replaced in 2010 and 2008.

The life expectancy of the systems is about 15 years, officials said.

Since the last time the systems were replaced, Directorate of Public Works employees routinely complete repairs when issues are reported.

There was not an official count of how many rooms had visible mold.

Officials said commands and barracks managers undergo training for the Army Barracks Management Program through the Directorate of Public Works.

The program outlines soldiers' roles and responsibilities for maintaining barracks rooms, which includes requirements to regularly clean the entire space and report maintenance issues to the chain of command or barracks manager.

"This issue has the full attention of our entire command team, and we are continuing to work with DPW to resolve these issues as soon as possible," Maj. Gen. John Brennan, commander of 1st Special Forces Command, previously said.

A spokesman for the command previously said Command Sgt. Maj. Ted Munter was involved with reaching out to leaders throughout Fort Bragg and working with the garrison to find places for the soldiers to go. Some other barracks rooms were occupied at the time because of an on-post exercise that has since ended.

Of the nearly 200 impacted soldiers, 103 were originally placed in off-post lodging, and the remainder were in barracks on post, Maj. Dan Lessard, a spokesman for the command previously said.

Officials said as of Friday, 88 of the 103 soldiers have since been transferred to barracks on the post, and the other 17 are expected to be back on post by the weekend.

"Our command is thankful for the assistance we have received from a number of units around the installation," Lessard said.

This article is written by Rachael Riley from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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