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Heating Issues Keep OK County Jail Freezing Cold

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Issues with the heating system at the Oklahoma County Jail have employees and inmates dealing with frigid conditions. Issues with the heating system at the Oklahoma County Jail have employees and inmates dealing with frigid conditions.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Issues with the heating system at the Oklahoma County Jail have employees and inmates dealing with frigid conditions.

It's been below freezing in Oklahoma City for several days, keeping people in coats and gloves inside the county lockup. Deep in the bowels of the jail is a heating system Sheriff John Whetsel calls antiquated.

"You could come in tomorrow or later this afternoon, and [my office] may be freezing," the sheriff said.

Some areas of the jail are comfortable, while others have employees sporting gloves and hoodies. Sheriff's department officials say the current system uses old technology by carrying hot air from nine blocks east and sending in 13 stories high.

"It's a never-ending issue here to make sure that we do the best to keep this entire 13-story facility at a comfortable temperature," said Whetsel.

The distribution of the hot air rarely works the way it should, according to maintenance employees. Officials admit inmates have been dealing with freezing conditions but say there have been no health scares. As for fixing what deputies call a cheap system, Whetsel says the county simply can't afford it.

"You would be talking about a massive, massive renovation to change the air handling systems or the air and heat system in this building and literally millions of dollars to do that," Whetsel said.

The jail opened in 1991. At that time, officials say the county went for low bids that bought the outdated air induction system. Deputies say inmates who are too cold will be moved to a different part of the building and given extra blankets.

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