Dearborn Firefighters Forced To Sleep In Trucks Due To Mold Concerns

January 28, 2020

A group of Dearborn firefighters has been forced to sleep in their trucks while on their 24-hour shifts due to black mold problems. The mold was caused by flooding that occurred in Fire Station No. 5 on Oakwood Street a few weeks ago when Dearborn faced serious downpours.

Mold, which can develop and spread in just 48 hours, was discovered on a piece of drywall that was removed on January 22 when repairs were being undertaken by the City of Melvindale following a sewer backup at the station on January 9.

Dearborn Firefighters Union President Jeffrey Lentz says firefighters were sent to other stations temporarily while Fire Station No. 5 dealt with the flood damage. However, when the repairs were finished, the cleanup crew discovered the black mold.

There was so much of it, Lentz says, that the fire station is currently uninhabitable.

Rather than send firefighters temporarily to other stations as they had before, the fire chief of Fire Station No. 5 ordered firefighters to take their trucks to the Melvindale Civic Arena. Lentz says he’s happy the station was temporarily shut down but that he doesn’t agree with where the firefighters were put.

“Our firefighters understand with our profession, with working 24-hour shifts, that there will be times when we are tired and we are exhausted and sleep-deprived because of the 911 calls that come in and the citizens we serve,” said Lentz in an interview with FOX-2 Detroit. “But at the same time, we should be rested and able to perform those duties and we should not be forced to be staying up for an entire 24-hour shift and then expected to be able to make life and death decisions in a split second.”

The City of Melvindale currently owns Fire Station No. 5 and is responsible for the station’s maintenance. Black mold remediation will be necessary before the firefighters can return to the station.

What are the dangers of black mold?

Black mold is a toxic mold and it can be tricky to get rid of. Compared to asbestos abatement, which is a procedure used to control fiber release from asbestos, black mold remediation requires thorough cleaning and can take weeks in a building as large as a fire station. The abatement process would take up to five days in a building the size of a single-family home.

Because black mold is a toxic mold, it’s crucial to let professionals take care of the remediation. Symptoms of black mold exposure or black mold poisoning include:

  • Respiratory illness
  • Chronic coughing and sneezing
  • Eye irritation
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Skin rashes
  • Persistent headaches

Although there’s no research to suggest that black mold can cause cancer or lung disease, it’s been known to cause other health concerns such as fungal meningitis of which there was an outbreak in 2012. That being said, if you discover black mold in your home, contact an abatement specialist immediately.

How can you prevent black mold?

To prevent black mold from growing in your home, it’s important to control moisture and the humidity level. Your interior humidity should stay under 60%. Tinted windows can help to block up to 79% of solar heat to cut down on cooling costs and to reduce humidity.

Black mold likes to grow in homes that have been flooded, so it’s important to dry any wet materials quickly and to repair leaks. Dry any items in your home thoroughly before storing them away.

Ultimately, dealing with black mold quickly and efficiently is vital not only because it can cause health issues for anyone breathing it in but also because it can do serious structural damage. Any building or space like Fire Station No. 5 needs to be completely dry and free of mold before anyone can safely enter the space without a ventilator mask.

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