AUSTIN (KXAN) — A project to add female locker rooms and women’s facilities to Austin’s 46 fire stations is still not complete after 15 years. Currently, 12 stations do not have any changing facilities for female firefighters, and it could be a lot longer before they do since there is little to no funding for the last two phases of the 6-phase project.
“The purpose of the project was to add locker rooms and women’s facilities to the fire stations that didn’t already have it,” Jorge Morales, assistant director of engineering and project delivery with Austin Public Works says. He says part of the reason why they’ve stalled on finishing the project is because there was no funding. In 2012, they went to voters to ask for cash to finish, but since then, costs have gone up and now funding is an issue once again.
Morales says the final two phases cost more money and are slower to finish since they deal with facilities that are older.
“We take serious the concerns of the delays in these projects, we’ve heard it loud and clear,” Morales says. “We’re working on an expedited schedule, that we put together, so in an ideal world, we would finalize the design and then in a couple of months bid it out and get it to council.”
AFD BY THE NUMBERS
- 46 AFD Fire Stations
- 12 are not outfitted with female locker rooms
- 1,009 firefighters
- 72 of which are women (7%)
Austin Council Member Delia Garza, who was a firefighter herself, says the lack in progress is unacceptable for the 72 female firefighters with the Austin Fire Department.
“I’ve been in contact with a lot of female firefighters—many of whom I’ve worked with as a firefighter and are good friends with to this day—and they have been pushing and pushing to get answers as to why it’s taken this long to get appropriate facilities for them,” said Garza.
The Austin Firefighter’s Association President, Bob Nicks, says they’re going to fight to get the project done with or without the department’s help.
“We need to make sure they have a bathroom to go to. It’s a very basic service that we need to offer our employees. When we ask them to come to work and do the type of work we’re asking them to,” Nicks says.
Public Works says they have taken phase 5 of the project and added some EMS projects to it, in hopes that the project bundle will make things more cost efficient. According to Public Works, there is currently no funding for the final phase 6 of the project.