TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)– Tallahassee firefighters are back at Station 7 following a temporary relocation to Station 9 last week.
Employees were forced to leave the building on Shamrock following concerns of mold. Staff are now staying in temporary housing provided by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office on site at Station 7 while crews work to remediate and clean.
The action comes after an employee brought up health concerns and mold growth at the building. Since then, at least nine employees have filed a “first report of injury or illness” with the City based on the concerns at Station 7. That is the first step in a potential workman’s compensation claim.
“We’re not going to disregard our employees. If that’s a concern, we’re going to look into it and address it” said Fire Chief Jerome Gaines.
A report done by Mihir Environics Inc. shows that the hallway outside the HVAC closet had high levels of mold spores in the air. However, the amount is not higher than the outdoor air. A conclusion reached by the report states, “higher spore counts in the hallway indicates suspect presence of mold contamination in the area above ceiling.”
Recommendations were made including investigating the HVAC system and correcting the humidity problem which may be the reason for visible mold. And, investigating the above ceiling space in the hallway and other areas for possible mold contamination.
Gaines, acknowledged the issue and said they are working to make improvements.
“You know, these stations are old stations. We live in Florida which is a very humid climate. Mold is everywhere. It’s outside,” said Gaines.
“You can just consider it’s all around you, it’s on you,” said John Hassler.
Hassler is an expert on mold and owns Indoor Environmental Management. The company provides a variety of services including
identifying and remediating mold in the home. He attributes mold growth to two things.
“It’s either an active water leak in liquid state from storm water or plumbing. Or, relative humidity. And the way to protect yourself against unwanted mold growth and amplification is to control those factors or address them immediately if they become a problem,” he said.
The City is now working to address the factors leading to the station’s issue.
“We’ve contracted with experts that have extensive knowledge in this area,” said John Powell, Environmental Services and Facilities Director for the City of Tallahassee.
Several improvements have since been made, including uncovering a fresh air intake vent, adjustments to temperature control settings and adding motion sensors to fans in the restrooms.
“The outside spore count is significantly higher than what we found inside. That doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements. Improvements that will not only benefit energy consumption, as well as the quality of the air inside the building,” said Powell.
Chief Gaines said he feels satisfied that the appropriate actions are being taken.
“We can’t address anything if we don’t know about it. And we will continue to take a proactive position in everything we do and make sure not just the citizens, but the health and safety of our employees is number one,” he said.
The City expects the work to take about two weeks. It maintains that there should be no delay in response time during that time.
Article Source: http://www.wctv.tv/content/news/TFD-firefighters-are-relocated-to-Station-9-following-concerns-of-mold-440405103.html