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Air Force and Congressional leaders visit Tinker to address housing

An image of Congressional and Air Force leaders reviewing the housing situation on Tinker Air Force Base.

Isaul Garcia, a resident construction manager with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, shows the space in which it was discovered that a subcontractor of Balfour Beatty Construction failed to install fire protection paneling in 77 units of Tinker base housing to Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan. Inhofe and Donovan, along with the Honorable John Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, toured base housing at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Oct. 1 to learn more about continuing issues concerning mold, fire protection paneling and disturbed asbestos. Inhofe, Donovan and Henderson, along with 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Paul Filcek, addressed the way forward to solving these issues with Balfour Beatty Communities in a press conference today. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kelly White)

An image of Air Force and Congressional leaders giving a press conference following their review of houses on Tinker Air Force Base.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force the Honorable John Henderson, Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan and 72nd Air Base Wing Commander Col. Paul Filcek listen to Oklahoma Senator and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee James Inhofe during a press conference on Oct. 1 at Tinker Air Force Base. The group addressed the Air Force's decision to move forward with a 90-day accountability plan for Balfour Beatty Communities after touring several homes affected by continuing issues such as mold, disturbed asbestos or a lack of fire protection paneling. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, and Matthew Donovan, acting secretary of the Air Force, are visiting Tinker Air Force Base this week to learn more about a recent discovery of possible disturbed asbestos in older privatized housing.

Tinker leadership informed affected base residents about the possible disturbed asbestos during a community meeting last week immediately following the discovery, and are actively resolving the issue.

“Tinker Air Force Base Military Housing Office discovered a subcontractor to Balfour Beatty Communities had disturbed potential asbestos in 20 houses, while conducting floor replacement work.  The subcontractor executed the work without appropriate safety precautions and did not notify residents that proper safety precautions had not been taken, creating possible risks to residents,” said Tinker Installation Commander Col. Paul Filcek. “Tinker leaders remain committed to our Airmen and their families having safe and quality housing, and we are working with BBC to improve their performance, fix systemic issues and keep our families safe.”

While BBC contractors did disturb asbestos laden tiles, the design of the tiles is such that free asbestos would not typically be released into the air and the test results thus far confirm that no asbestos particles were found in the samples, according to Filcek.  

Thirteen families -- out of the 660 privatized houses – were displaced to hotels at no cost to them while work was completed. Testing and clean-up of the affected homes is expected to be finished by Oct. 1. 

Initial test samples for the homes with the possible disturbed asbestos were sent to a certified lab with request for expedited results. The affected houses are from the McNarney subdivision and were built between 1970 and 1971. As of Sept. 30, 19 of 20 homes had tested clean of any asbestos.

Previously, the Air Force also discovered a BBC fire code violation involving 292 duplexes of which 77 are missing fire protection paneling between units. These repairs are underway and will be completed in December.

Every commander on the installation with residents in privatized housing was offered housing management classes and is engaged. “This is personal to us all, and we will not rest until we get it right,” Filcek added.

Tinker leadership and BBC management have planned a resident-only town hall Oct. 3 to update residents on all base housing repairs and issues.