BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers turned over the keys to Birmingham Fire Station #18 on June 24, the seventh temporary critical facility completed by the Corps since the April tornadoes. Helping ensure essential operations can function after a disaster is an important role of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency, which assigns such tasks to the Corps.
Cities, towns and counties across Alabama lost buildings that are vital to their community – police and fire stations – to the tornadoes. Because construction and rebuilding are lengthy processes, often the best solution is to use temporary facilities while the permanent buildings are under construction or repair. This enables critical services such as police and fire departments to function soon after the disaster occurs.
FEMA’s Public Assistance Program helps pay for emergency protective measures, including construction of temporary facilities for essential services. The program is administered through the state.
“The state of Alabama is committed to the safety and security of our citizens, and the Public Assistance Program helps maintain that function of our local governments after a disaster,” said State Coordinating Officer Jeff Byard. “It’s an important step in recovery. Our first responders must have a place to work from to better enable them to serve and protect our citizens.”
The Corps is the primary agency for technical assistance to FEMA under the program. However, local jurisdictions can choose to manage the work or ask for help from FEMA.
For example, after the tornadoes, recovery officials identified 20 facilities – city halls, police stations, fire stations and schools – that needed to be replaced. FEMA assigned the Corps seven temporary facilities. For the rest, local jurisdictions either found available space in other buildings or secured temporary buildings on their own. By June 22, the Corps had installed one police station and six fire stations.
“A core part of our mission is to support first responders,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne. These are not luxury accommodations, but they provide our first responders decent working space until permanent structures can be built.”
The temporary facilities are basic manufactured structures with a couple of rooms for offices and a meeting area. Five of the fire stations are for volunteer fire departments, and one was for a city fire department, which required sleeping quarters.
The other six temporary critical facilities completed by the Corps are the Fultondale Fire Station, Hackleburg Fire Station, Hackleburg Police Station, Johnson’s Crossing Fire Station, North Smithfield Fire Station and Webster’s Chapel Fire Station.
Anyone who needs to register can call FEMA’s toll-free helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and multilingual assistance is available. Online registration is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or through a smartphone or tablet at