Jun. 19—The historic Brownsville Central Fire Station has some interior mold issues and fire department personnel have been relocated temporarily until remediation is complete and the station is reopened.
That's according to Fire Chief Jarrett Sheldon, who said Brownsville Fire Department personnel from Central Station have been transferred to the FEMA dome at the Brownsville Sports Park and that surrounding stations, including Station No. 2 on West St. Charles Street, will be responding to downtown calls in the interim.
"No services will be interrupted during the temporary transition," he said. "We are monitoring response times for emergency calls and will make adjustments accordingly to ensure we continue to provide appropriate responses without interruptions or delays."
An environmental assessment conducted in March found that visible fungal growth on the first and second floors of the Central Station did not exceed the regulatory threshold defined in the state's Mold Assessors and Remediators Administrative Rules with the exception of a second-floor pole slide area, where fungal growth was found to exceed allowable levels, Sheldon said.
Access was restricted to the area, which was separated from living areas by a glass door, though personnel were relocated out of an abundance of caution to protect them, he said.
Brownsville Central Fire Station, 1000 E. Adams St., was designed and built in 1929 by architect/builder Ben Clark. The architecture is Italian Renaissance Revival-style with some Spanish Colonial Revival-style details. The station features two functional poles that enable firefighters to drop to the first floor from their second-floor sleeping quarters.
Sheldon said BFD worked with the city's Internal Services department to find a contractor to provide mold remediation services. Internal Services Director Roxanna Moreno told a June 1 work session of city commissioners that the remediation contract had been awarded and that getting rid of the mold would entail wiping down the walls at the very least and possibly removing part of the wall in the 25-square-foot area in question.
"After that we will go back in and begin putting back the walls and doing any type of work that needs to be done," she said.
Moreno said the city will also work with an architect to come up with a long-term solution to the mold issue, and that the city's Historic Preservation Commission will also be involved.
"We will be working with (HPC) to make sure that we comply with any of those regulations," she said. "Currently everything is in the interior at this point, but once we do that assessment of the facility we'll know more, and recommendations will be submitted as far as what we can do bring it back to service. Once we do the facility assessment (HPC) will very much be involved."
"We are hoping to have the station reopened within a month," Sheldon said.