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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mold Temporarily Shuts Down Fire Station

York's fire department will be without one of its four stations indefinitely until mold created by the flooding last month can be removed, city Fire Chief Steven Buffington said Tuesday.

The mold, which Buffington discovered during a training session at the Lincoln Station on Roosevelt Avenue last week, has been growing on the walls of the station's basement and creating a potential hazard for the crews that work at Lincoln, Buffington said.

As a result, Lincoln's personnel have been temporarily moved to the department's Rex/Laurel Station on South Duke Street downtown, where there was room to house the engine, Buffington said.

It's a solution for now, but not for any length of time, Buffington said.

The Lincoln Station serves a more-remote part of the city's west end - particularly the industrial park north of Route 30 - and the move leaves that portion of town vulnerable, he said.

"We try to put an engine company within 1.5 miles of every built-upon tract of land in the city," Buffington said. "(The move) obviously skews that. That's one of the first things the mayor and I talked about is we can't allow that to go on long term."

Buffington said he has been discussing options with York Mayor Kim Bracey, including some kind of temporary structure for the engine on the tract of land next to Lincoln Station. Options will have to be run by the city's insurance adjusters, he said.

"Right now, the primary concern is the health and safety of our firefighters," Buffington said. "We don't know that it's a huge risk, but, based on what the first assessment of the environmental company was, their recommendation was that they (firefighters) not work there."

Buffington said he believes the mold is the result of flooding that swept through the building's basement after Tropical Storm Lee in early September. Lincoln Station's platoon spent a full day pumping the water that filled the basement, but the lower level is below grade and remained damp afterward, Buffington said.

No one in the station has complained of any negative health effects as a result of the mold, nor did anyone call the office to complain, Buffington said. But the smell was noticeable last week when Buffington visited the building.

Buffington met with an environmental remediation crew Tuesday afternoon. The next step will be developing a plan to begin to combat the mold as quickly as possible.

No cost estimates have been prepared yet, but Buffington said he expected to pay more than $100,000.

"We're not satisfied to let that go long term," Buffington said. "We'll take whatever steps we need to get engine company coverage on that end of town. It's going to go a very short period of time."

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