Mould forces partial closure of Kanata fire station

Firefighters at a station on Eagleson Road have been forced to relocate after black mould was discovered in the building.

Emergency services unaffected by disruption at Eagleson Road station, city says

Firefighters have been told not to use fire station 41 on Eagleson Road for day-to-day activities after potentially toxic mould was discovered last week. Fire trucks are still going in and out of the station. (CBC)

Firefighters at a Kanata station have been forced to relocate after black mould was discovered last week in the building's washroom.

The mould was found inside fire station 41 on Eagleson Road after drywall was removed to fix a water leak, said Capt. Victor Dillabaugh, an executive member with the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Workers then sealed off the area and tore down walls to eliminate as much mould as possible, Dillabaugh said.

While fire trucks are still going in and out of the station, the firefighters have moved most of their day-to-day affairs to station 46 on Iber Road, about five kilometres away.

Taking situation 'very seriously'

"Our concern is for the firefighters and the staff that work at the facility. Black mould, mould spores, all the other health concerns associated with that — we take very seriously," said Dillabaugh, who's also a health and safety representative with Ottawa Fire Services.

"It's possible that there are people working in that station who are more susceptible to spores and mould, and that could be an acute or chronic concern for them."

Fire response unaffected, city says

​No one from the City of Ottawa was willing to be interviewed Wednesday about the mould outbreak at the Eagleson Road station.

However, Ottawa Fire Services Chief Gerry Pingitore confirmed the partial closure in a statement, adding that the disruption wouldn't affect municipal fire coverage. 

We are working diligently ... to have personnel return to the station as soon as possible.- Fire Chief Gerry Pingitore

"There are no impacts to Ottawa Fire Services's response across the city. We are working diligently with our partners to have personnel return to the station as soon as possible," Pingitore said.

According to Pingitore, an analysis of the station's air quality initially suggested that staff wouldn't have to relocate.

But after the extent of the mould infestation became clear, the city decided on Dec. 17 to begin deploying Station 41's firefighters "dynamically," his statement said.

Station 41 normally houses roughly four City of Ottawa firefighters per shift, plus a contingent of rural firefighters, Dillabaugh said.

Coughing, shortness of breath

While no one could say Wednesday how long the station would be partially closed, Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley said in an email that work to fix the problem was "already underway."

That work was not expected to take long, Hubley added.

According to Health Canada, toxic mould — which can be black, white or almost any other colour — can cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and irritation of the nose, throat and eyes.

Damp spaces including bathrooms are among the most common places the fungus grows, the federal agency says.

It's not the first time this year that life a City of Ottawa fire station has been disrupted: in April, station 37 on Earl Armstrong Road was temporarily shuttered after rats were found crawling in the walls.