DELRAY BEACH, FL – The president of the Palm Beach County firefighter’s union calling for big changes in Delray Beach.
He says the city needs to shut down fire station 3 and rebuild it because it is causing health problems for the firefighters and paramedics stationed there.
This comes two days after city leaders decided not to merge their fire department with the county.
IAFF Local 2928 President Ricky Grau says firefighters at the station, located at 651 Linton Blvd, are worried about their health.
“They have water leaking, there is mold, it’s rundown,” Grau explains, adding it has been infested with rats in the past.
He says the conditions at the fire house could be to blame for four firefighters stationed there getting cancer. But he admits he hasn’t seen the latest air quality tests.
The fire department hired an outside firm to study air quality from 2008 to 2014. The latest report showed little risk from pollutants in the air, but recommended upgrading the ventilation to keep diesel fumes and carbon monoxide out of the living space.
The city is currently in the process of adding new ventilation systems at all fire stations.
“Look, if there is empirical data which shows they shouldn’t be there, they’re not going to be there,” says Mayor Cary Glickstein.
He calls the station “less than perfect.” But he’s not shutting it down, until a new one is built.
He says the city has talked about building a new fire station, but delayed action while it negotiated a possible merger with the Palm Beach County fire department. The county might have payed for the construction, if a deal was reached. Those talks ended Tuesday.
The mayor says the city is now re-focused on improving the fire department.
“By this time next year, I hope to be well under construction,” he says.
Grau will believe it, when he sees it.
“They’ve basically been kicking the can down the road for several years and now it’s time for the city to live up to what it’s said,” the union president explains.
The fire department confirms it reimbursed sick days to firefighters from this station in 2009. Grau says that’s proof the city knew there were issues up to six years ago.
A spokesman from the fire departments says its been proactive in preventing any health concerns related to air quality. It is installing new weatherstripping and carpeting at the fire stations. Firefighters have two sets of gear, so they aren’t continuously exposed to contaminants on their clothing.
Glickstein says there is nothing wrong with station 3 which would alter the level of care you expect when you dial 911.