Citing a concern for the safety of residents of the DPS Training Academy, members of the Texas Public Safety Commission voted unanimously Thursday to immediately close the two aging dormitories, which were built in 1955 and 1972. All students will be moved to a nearby motel for the immediate future.
“We take the safety of our employees and students seriously and will do what we must do to provide them with a secure, safe sleeping environment,” said Steven C. McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Inspections of the facility by the State Fire Marshal’s Office for the past eight years have noted the deficiencies, but most of the recommendations have not been implemented because of funding constraints.
Improvements to bring the buildings up to Life Safety Code for fire safety—includes a fire alarm and sprinkler system, a fire suppression system for the cafeteria and enclosing stairwells—would likely cost several million dollars. Compounding these issues, the high concentration of calcium in the buildings’ pipes over the years has caused the flow of hot water to almost cease. Repairing this critical infrastructure issue will require considerable funding to abate.
The DPS dormitory houses students in the recruit school, as well as other DPS employees who travel from across the state to attend training classes or other meetings in Austin. The dormitory can house up to 417 people and includes a cafeteria where meals are served.