REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - Redstone Arsenal is working on increasing its police and firefighting forces, said Colonel Tom Holliday, Garrison Commander Wednesday.
Col. Holliday admitted the arsenal was, in some ways, impacted by a recent Army draw-down and Department of Defense hiring freeze.
"It has slowed down a few of our hiring actions," he said "We've got a few positions that I would like to have filled right now that aren't."
But there are plans in place to address the current needs. Holliday said the Garrison has gotten the approval to hire more police officers and firefighters through the Directorate of Emergency Services. It will be welcome relief.
"It has been taxing," he explained. "All of my emergency services personnel are putting in overtime now to make up the difference as the weeks and months go on. And that's why getting these personnel hired is at the top of the list."
He said the gate guard staff is also at capacity, but it leaves little wiggle room for the unexpected. The guards that they have, are what they need. There is no surplus for fill-ins.
"If I have a guard that calls in sick, that's when I have to close a [gate] lane," he explained, noting that he knows that can cause problems. "I don't have the flexibility to backfill them."
Holliday explained the arsenal is doing the best it can with what it already has. He is still working on plans to get more guards, but there is nothing set in stone yet.
Holliday noted the hiring freeze is also affecting a future Redstone project.
"We've got a new child development center that's opening that is going to be delayed now," he said. "It will slow down the opening. We were supposed to open in April, and I don't have a timeline right now. It will be when we can hire. And we do have authority to hire those people now."
The arsenal even had to cut certain services, or combine others, to be more efficient.
Holliday said he must weigh the needs of a growing arsenal against the resources they have available. But he is optimistic that with every downturn comes an uptick. There's no telling yet what upcoming budgets may provide.
"What I won't do is sacrifice the security of the arsenal," he asserted.