Mold investigation closes Calfire station
October 11, 2007
Calfire closed up shop early at the Martis Valley Station this week to investigate the discovery of mold in the building that state firefighters share with their Truckee counterparts.
Personnel began moving out Wednesday night from the station, located on Truckee Tahoe Airport Road between town hall and the airport. State firefighters were ordered not to re-enter the building without protection.
The move comes at roughly the time of year when Calfire would usually shut down the station at the end of the fire season, so officials say the level of fire protection for the Truckee-Tahoe area will not be affected.
“An employee suspected there may have been mold in the building, and we are testing now,” said Chief Brad Harris of Calfire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit. “We would be down-staffing now anyway, so we’re just doing it a little early now.”
An unidentified employee exhibited some symptoms this fire season that potentially could have been caused by mold, Harris said. The reported reaction sparked the investigation.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, symptoms from exposure to mold are generally similar to hay fever, and can be an allergic reaction or irritation of an existing respiratory ailment.
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Harris said a more in-depth investigation the department will begin as soon as next week will determine the source of the potential mold problem.
“The first goal for both Calfire and Truckee Fire is to determine if there is an actual problem, and what the scope of the problem is, and then mitigate it,” Harris said.
Truckee Fire Protection District personnel also operate out of the station, but no evidence of mold has been discovered in their portion of the building, said Truckee Fire Chief Bryce Keller.
Even so, Keller said he is asking Truckee Fire personnel to be alert for either symptoms or signs of mold around the building.
“We don’t believe there is a problem on the Truckee Fire side,” Keller said. “If we find there is then we’ll move out.”
The closure comes within a week of when Truckee Fire would take over the lead in wildfire response from Calfire, and with the current cool and moist weather, Keller said he is confident the change wouldn’t affect protection or service.
Calfire Truckee Area Forester Jeff Dowling will continue working in the Truckee area, Harris said.
If an extensive mold problem is discovered, Harris said Calfire’s goal is to have it taken care of before the beginning of next year’s fire season.
Keller said the building was built in the late 1990s.
“While it’s only seven-and-a-half or eight years old, it’s in a difficult alpine climate,” Keller said.
Some issues that may have contributed to the mold include a leaky roof, and pipes that froze and burst, Keller said.
A problem with the roof was identified last year, and has been slated for repair next year, he said.