I-Team Investigation: Closed Firehouse Follow-Up

By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Fire Union officials now say EPA air sample tests they have received from city officials indicate the presence of a number of chemicals inside the Engine Co. 66 firehouse, which was closed abruptly December 18, after firefighters reported fumes and one reported feeling ill.

READ: I-Team Investigation: Firehouse Conditions

Fortunately, Fire Union President Joe Schulle says, “they were all at low levels within acceptable limits.”

But, he adds, a number of the chemicals are known to cause cancer and he is concerned about how long firefighters may have been exposed to them.

Schulle says he is also concerned because officials have yet to determine the site of the leak, that is sending chemicals into ground near the firehouse, and the exact chemical causing the fumes.

Barry Scott, Deputy Finance Director for Risk Management for the City of Philadelphia stated, “the levels of chemicals that we have measured are relatively low, very low in fact. Two or three orders of magnitude below levels of concern.”

According to Deputy Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, “we’re still in the process of trying to figure out what this source is. We’re definitely committed to making sure everybody enters back in, in a safe manner.”

Schulle says he doesn’t want the firehouse reopened until readings are “zero”.

The union president says he is also pushing forward with Freedom of Information requests, filed with the state and city, hoping to learn results of other tests that, he believes, were conducted inside the fire station.

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