After learning of additional structural and asbestos problems in privatized housing on Tinker Air Force Base, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement:
“I am outraged to learn of additional problems with military privatized housing on Tinker Air Force Base — but not as upset, I’m sure, as the families who live there. With all that our military families have to worry about, having a safe and sound home should not be one of them. All housing on military bases should meet at least the most basic standards of fire and chemical safety. These issues are further example of how serious and widespread the problems are.
“The fact of the matter is about 100 military homes were put at risk because of this negligence, and that is simply unacceptable. Balfour Beatty must be held accountable, and they must make sure this never happens again.
“The Department of Defense and Congress are taking steps of our own to fix the broken military housing system — not just at Tinker, not just in the Air Force, but across the country and across all the services. Final defense authorization legislation will make meaningful, drastic reform to get military housing back on track.
“I look forward to visiting Tinker this week to see these problems firsthand, discuss with military leaders their observations and role in the repairs, and meet with Balfour Beatty, who better come prepared with answers to how things went so wrong and real solutions for how they are going to make it right.”
Background: Inhofe learned last week that a recent fire investigation showed that 77 of 292 duplex units built by Balfour Beatty on Tinker Air Force Base did not have the required one-hour fire rated separation or fire rated drywall assembly between the housing units as required by code. The other 215 units were found to require minor drywall repairs. Repairs are ongoing.
This followed news that a subcontractor for Balfour Beatty disturbed latent asbestos-containing materials in 20 homes on the base, 13 of which are occupied; while there was limited chance for exposure to the residents over a short duration of time, the Air Force and Balfour Beatty are testing and cleaning all affected homes.
Inhofe will visit Tinker Air Force Base this week to learn more about the situation; more details will follow regarding his visit.
Inhofe has been a leading voice against allegations of substandard construction and service provided by housing partners within the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. The Inhofe-led National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2020 (S. 1790) includes extensive reforms to this program, designed to improve quality of life for service members and their families and hold accountable the military chain of command and the housing companies. The legislation, which passed the Senate 86-8, is undergoing final negotiations.