Mold displaces firefigthers in Mt. Laurel

May 29, 2009 3:39:24 PM PDT
A company of Mount Laurel firefighters have a new, temporary home. The Fellowship Fire Station on Church Road in Mt. Laurel is not handling emergency calls. It's been closed since last month when toxic black mold was discovered near a sleeping area in a second floor shower stall used by firefighters on 24 hour shifts.

"We just thought, let's shut down and let's get this corrected instead of keeping our people in some type of risk," Chief Robert Gallas said.

An inspection revealed the mold problem was rather extensive. It followed a leak to the first floor and potentially hazardous levels of toxic mold spores had gone airborne via the heating system, throughout the three story structure.

"The water dripped down into the electrical room. It had two levels. The HVAC system in there which made it airborne throughout the area," Deputy Chief John Colucci said.

The department is now taking bids form companies to remove the mold. It's a process they're told could cost anywhere from $10 to $100,000, a tab they can ill afford.

"This couldn't have come at a worse time for the department. With the economic times out there and with state putting a 4-percent cap on our fire district budgets," Chief Gallas said.

The department of 54 paid and 54 volunteer firefighters may have to dip into overtime, equipment, and maintenance money to pay for mold remediation.

Fellowship station firefighters handle a thousand calls a year. They are now dispatched out of a downtown headquarters about 5 miles away.

Fortunately, no more than a minute has been reportedly lost in response time because a Cherry Hill fire company, about a mile away, responds to Fellowship station calls.

Still, officials hope to have the toxic mold removed and these guys working out of their station again this summer.

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