Ky. Firefighters Troubled by Lack of AC


Some Louisville firefighters are hot under the collar after the air conditioning at a 15-month-old fire house has been out throughout the hottest days of June.

When the Portland firehouse opened, officials touted its state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system designed to be energy efficient and save money. Instead, it hasn't worked.

Now, there's an effort under way to find out why and fix the problem.

Firefighters from engine company 6 in Louisville's Portland neighborhood have been left in the heat for most of June.

The firehouse was the first new one built in 14 years.

"We're looking at about a third of the cost to utilize that system as it would to use traditional either gas or electric systems," Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick said in March 2009.

Right now, there are three not-so-state-of-the-art of window air conditioning units keeping the firehouse at a comfortable 72 degrees.

On June 3, firefighters filed their first official grievance with the city due to the oppressive heat. One firefighter said the temperature inside the firehouse reached 88 degrees on the inside thermostat.

The city responded with floor units, but they didn't work either. On Tuesday, nearly four weeks suffering through the hottest June on record and several unofficial attempts later, firefighters filed their second grievance.

Public works responded immediately by installing the window units Tuesday night.

"It's very important. We want our guys to be hydrated when they're in quarters and to be ready for the next call," Louisville Fire Department Col. Charles Mucker said.

"It's very disappointing and we want to make sure our taxpayer money has gone to a system that's going to last for many years," mayor's spokeswoman Lindsay English said.

English said the city has hired a third party independent contractor to find out what's wrong with main geothermal system. She said public works leaders are also checking on any warranty information.

St. Clair construction located here in Louisville was the general contractor for the Portland firehouse project.

St. Clair executives declined comment on the problem.

The contractor hired to check out the geothermal heating and cooling system hopes to have an answer to the problem by the end of the week.

Total cost of building the fire house was $1.8 million. It replaced the old Portland firehouse built in 1903.

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