FORT STEWART, Ga.— More than 30 Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division attended a Mold Assessment and Remediation in Buildings certification course Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 on Fort Stewart, Georgia. The course taught industry-standard mold remediation practices for the attendees to bring back to their units to implement across post.
Bill McGovern, a technical engineer with the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Directorate of Public Works, and head of the Fort Stewart mold remediation team, worked to bring a team from The Environmental Institute of Atlanta, a hands-on training facility that enhances environmental health and safety, to teach the three-day course to the Soldiers.
“It is very important to have The Environmental Institute here to give the education of why we do the things we’re doing...and to certify our Soldiers and civilians on how to properly remediate mold,” McGovern said. “Everyone that is in this course is either on the DPW mold team or is part of their brigade's mold team."
Following a 100-question exam at the end of the course, participants were awarded a Mold Inspector/Remediator certification.
McGovern said these newly-certified inspectors/remediators will help Fort Stewart transition into a more proactive stance as teams work together to identify and stop mold outbreaks.
As part of the training, participants were taught about the key components that allow mold colonization to happen. They also received hands-on experience with specialized tools and equipment that they can use to inspect, identify, and remediate mold.
“I really hope, with the class we have here, that we have [gained] a better understanding of everything we have to do as a community,” McGovern said.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Perez, a member of the Fort Stewart mold team, attended the three-day course so that he could gain a better understanding of how to coach and mentor Soldiers on how to properly deal with mold.
“I don’t have an extensive background when it comes to mold, so attending this class was very beneficial,” Perez said.
McGovern hopes this course highlights to the participants that cleaning alone is not enough. He noted that if Soldiers do not find the root of the problem and the source of moisture, that mold will continue to return.
“Cleanliness and moisture are the keys,” he said. “Getting in the barracks, identifying the problem areas, and resolving the moisture issues to make it more conducive to cleanliness instead of mold propagation is vital.”
McGovern and The Environmental Institute instructors emphasized that prevention plans, for when Soldiers are in the field or deployed, are essential to ensuring that major mold issues do not arise while they are away.
To date, McGovern said that Fort Stewart has remediated 1,100 mold-related issues. He also added that these new Inspectors/Remediators will help identify and remediate mold-related issues on the installation.
“This is a continuing education topic, so we’ll have more classes,” he said. “The mold team Soldiers that are getting certified today will eventually leave or deploy, so we’ll have to replenish those ranks.”
Tackling mold issues is a whole-of-community effort for Fort Stewart. Each newly-certified Inspector/Remediator will now help reduce the time it takes to identify, assess and remediate mold.