Mold a growing problem at one Orange County fire station



ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates learned air-conditioning and mold problems could force Orange County to replace one of its fire stations.

Fire officials said they learned about the problem eight months ago at Station 80 on Bonneville Road, so Channel 9's Daralene Jones asked why it's taking so long to fix the problem.

A report obtained by 9 Investigates shows the amount of mold isn’t enough to immediately make the firefighters sick.

Channel 9 went inside the station and saw the mold growing in the ceiling and condensation building up behind the walls of the 41-year-old building.

"These documents we have here seems to show you've known about this problem since November. Why has it taken so long to deal with it?" Jones asked.

"Well, it's a large issue. It's an expensive proposition, either way," said Deputy Chief Vince Preston of Orange County Fire Rescue. "It may appear to some that there is not any forward momentum. That's quite the contrary."

Emails obtained by Channel 9 reveal the agency is working to "control temperature" to reduce indoor moisture.

Inspections are now done once a month and molded ceiling tiles are replaced, Jones was told.

A report from November shows what's known as significant "subject visible black and white mold," most of it on the second floor.

Fire officials said estimates show renovations could cost up to $900,000, almost half the cost of a new fire station.

"Will this work long term or will you have to look at replacing the station altogether?" asked Jones.

"That's a good question," said Preston. "Of course, that is the worst case scenario that we would have to replace the station in total. Fire stations, like any other capital asset, (are) very expensive in the neighborhood of $2 million."

Complicating matters is that the agency faces a budget deficit for next year, Jones was told.

The county is waiting on results from another study before deciding whether to renovate or replace the station.  Those results are expected back any day.