Mold found in station of Baker firefighters

Advocate staff writer

Baker firefighters are moving to a trailer after their fire station tested positive for toxic mold, officials said Sunday.
Many of the firefighters at the Groom Road station have complained of allergies, headaches and fatigue recently, Fire Chief Danny Edwards said. That prompted Mayor Harold Rideau to order the 1930s-era building be tested for mold spores, a test that showed high levels of cladosporium, Edwards said.

Rideau was in Nashville and could not be reached for comment.

Edwards, who himself reported chronic headaches, said Baker's 18 firefighters will be moved to a trailer near the station indefinitely.

The move should be completed by Tuesday, "at the latest," he said. "Our main concern was the health of our firemen and we definitely don't want them in any unsafe environment."

More tests must be conducted to determine whether the building can be cleaned or whether it needs to be condemned, Edwards said.

In the meantime, the department is operating normally and coverage will not be affected, Edwards said. The bays holding Baker's fire engines tested negative for mold and, for now, the engines will stay put.

The 911 call center is in a separate location and will not be affected by the move.

"We're not missing a beat. We're having full coverage; nothing's changed," he said.

None of the firefighters have been hospitalized but all will undergo physicals and medical tests to make sure they have not developed any serious medical problems from the mold, Edwards said.

The fire station building, which sits just off La. 19, was built in the 1930s as a mayor's office and became the fire station about 50 years ago, Edwards said.