Atlanta's fire chief gave a tour of the worn-down training facility to help raise awareness of the need for a new, up-to-date fire academy.
Several training buildings at the academy are condemned and classes are held in a rundown former community building which health professionals said should not be used.
"It is absolutely embarrassing for us to hire members to come in and say, 'You're going to work for the biggest. You're going to work for the best,'" Atlanta Fire Chief Rob Smith told 11alive.com. "And to bring them into somewhere like here."
On the tour, Chief Smith and visitors wore respirators and a full-body protective suit.
"We had recruits that were complaining of respiratory issues," the chief told the television station. "We sent them to the doctor. And the doctor simply said, 'Do not enter the building again.'"
Staff assigned to training said the poor facilities have them looking for structures where they can train and firefighters have to simulate a number of scenarios.
"We're always constantly looking for a new place to train to try to pull off what we're trying to do," Training Capt. Truman Oetting said. "So, we spend a lot more time on the planning side instead of the training side."
Talking about the proposed new facility, smith said it will "improve the services overall to the City of Atlanta."