JENKS, Okla- A fire station in Jenks is operating with limited access after testing positive for mold in several areas. Firefighters are not allowed to sleep at Fire Station 2 until further testing can be done to ensure there is no risk to firefighters.
The former Gulf Oil operations building was built in 1907 and remodeled into a fire station in 2006. The flat roof has been known to leak during rainstorms.
“This station is open and staffed as normal and our response time is unchanged,” said Chief Gary Friedel.
Meanwhile, firefighters are sleeping at the station across town and posting up with a truck at a nearby gas station overnight.
Fire Chief Gary Friedel says they are taking special precautions to ensure the safety of the crew. Firefighters usually sleep at the station during their 24 hour shift. Currently, only the chief and administrative staff is at the building for their 8 hour shifts.
The president of the union says a couple of the firefighters have complained of having allergic reactions to the mold.
“Even if it is just seasonal allergy issues having a compromised immune system before you even respond to a call to me is a health risk for the guys I represent and it’s not the best practice for the city,” said Union President Clinton East.
After discovering mold in October of last year, the fire chief says they're moving forward with plans to repair the roof and clean up the mold.
“Permanent is probably not the right word--but long lasting solutions-- yes we’re expecting these to be long lasting solutions,” he said.
The union and chief have butted heads in the past. In 2013, the union made a vote of “no confidence” in Chief Friedel. The Jenks city council responded by filing a complaint against the union. KJRH asked if this latest issue had anything to do with past grievances.
“I have not had any perception that this issue is anyway related to relationship issues that are between the chief and the union, from our standpoint the initial concern was of the health of the firefighters,” East said.
“I don’t see that those are related at all,” Friedel responded.
The chief and administrative staff will remain in the building for their 8 hour shifts until further testing of the mold and its potential effects are done.
The city is moving forward with repairs, estimated to be around $16,000. The city council is expected to approve the spending at its next meeting.
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