The Phenix City Post Office on Ninth Avenue has been without air conditioning for over a month, but officials say relief is on the way after they’ve been working on the problem for five weeks.
Postmaster Steve Finch said Wednesday morning he isn’t allowed to comment on the matter, but posted on the interior door is a sign that says, “The A/C is out. We are working on the situation.”
Debbie Fetterly, a communications programs specialist from the U.S. Postal Service, said the facility has two air conditioning compressors.
“The 15-ton compressor was to be replaced Monday, July 20, but the manufacturer sent the wrong-sized compressor which could not be installed,” Fetterly said in an email. “The correct 15-ton compressor is scheduled for installation (today).
“Parts are on order for the 25-ton compressor. Both compressors are older models, and it’s been difficult to find parts.”
The 15-ton compressor cools the lobby area, she said, and it was working last week but a weekend storm “shorted the wiring and the compressor failed.”
“The Postal Service apologizes to its employees and its customers. We thank our employees for their dedication to serving our customers in these conditions.”
Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe said Wednesday afternoon that he went into the office a few weeks ago because “it was brought to my attention it was extremely hot.”
The city owns the building, Lowe said, but the post office leases it from the city.
“There’s certain things we do and certain things they do and they’re responsible for,” Lowe said. “There’s certain parts we’re not responsible for. We just spent $49,000 to put a new roof on it, and that’s in the agreement. (The air condition) is not the responsibility of the city.”
Lowe said city manager Wallace Hunter went to talk to the postmaster Tuesday but he wasn’t in so he spoke with the next in charge. He said the city is being criticized for the problem.
“Our city manager made a conscientious effort to talk to them and make sure their workers quit saying it’s our responsibility,” Lowe said.
With temperatures hitting 99 degrees four of the last six days, conditions inside the post office are muggy with the doors and windows open and several large fans pushing around hot air.
On Tuesday afternoon, employees appeared fatigued and were sweating while serving a line of customers. Gatorade, water and personal fans were sitting at their individual counters. USPS has provided a supply of Gatorade, Fetterly said.
One frustrated citizen emailed the Ledger-Enquirer:
“This is the end of the 4TH week there has been no air conditioning at the Phenix City Post Office . Employees and customers are standing in long, crowded lines, burning up in this heat!!! Although fans are on and lights are usually turned off, it is still so very, very hot.
“The employees told me they had no idea when the system would be repaired or if they were getting a new unit — much less WHEN!!!”
According to WRBL’s chief meteorologist Bob Jeswald, the Chattahoochee Valley has recorded a temperature of 95 degrees or above every day since July 11.
Office temperature and humidity are matters of human comfort, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
But on osha.gov, the department recommends temperature control in the range of 68-76 degrees.
The Phenix City Post Office currently has 55 employees, according to the postmaster.