Toxic fumes close fire station in Roxborough

ROXBOROUGH - December 27, 2013

On December 19th the firefighters union was alerted that there was problem at Fire Company 66.

"There was an odor coming into the station and a couple members didn't feel right. A few days later one of our members was taken to the hospital and treated for light-headedness as a result of being in the station," said Joe Schulle, union president.

A hazmat team from the City of Philadelphia, air management and the EPA all came out to investigate.

"The fire department made the decision to evacuate the station and the station remains closed to this date. It is our understanding that they have not determined the exact cause and where the fumes are coming from," said Schulle.

Schulle said Friday that he requested a copy of the EPA report documenting the levels of contamination. He says it is in the possession of the fire commissioner but has yet to be turned over to the union.

"From the information I was provided they found several flammable gasses, flammable vapors in the station along with a reduced level of oxygen in the station," said Schulle.

Firefighters have made complaints for year about what Schulle says are deplorable living conditions. They were documented in pictures that were turned over exclusively to Action News.

"Several stations in the city right now, there are significant health issues. There are a few stations in Kensington where raw sewage backs up into the firehouses. There is a station out on East Oak Lane where there is no heat and they are using portable heaters," said Schulle.

There are run-down rooms, rats, raw sewage and holes in the ceilings and floors, where water leaks in when it rains.

"We are concerned for the safety of our members who are working and living in these stations, and they are breathing it in on a daily basis," said Schulle.

Schulle says he doesn't know what the fumes are but says this is the result of years of neglect he says is putting the stations and the firefighters at risk.

A spokesperson from the mayor's office says they are still trying to get to the bottom of what contaminated the building, how they can fix it and how long the station will be closed.

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