State inspectors surprised the Richmond Fire Department Thursday morning. They made an unplanned visit after a complaint was sent to OSHA about the deteriorating conditions in Richmond fire houses.
Crews were allowed to move back into Station 14 after tests we told you about showed cleanup alleviated the mold concerns, but it doesn't look like the troubles are over for the department.
Our cameras caught up with state health compliance officers on a surprise inspection in which they toured eleven of the city's twenty fire stations.
One example was found in Station 20 on Forest Hill Avenue, where water rushes down basement walls when it rains. You can see what appears to be black mold on the walls and stains where water pools. The firefighters there had to pool their own money to pay for a dehumidifier to dry things out.
Keith Andes with the local firefighters' union is the one who filed the complaint online on Saturday.
"I am sorry that the taxpayers have to spend more money in fixing these problems but we live there 24 hours a day," he explained. "911, when they call, we're there. And all I'm asking for is what is the phone number we call to make sure that we get addressed in a timely manner?"
He doesn't mince words about Chief Robert Creecy.
"I personally am calling for the chief's resignation," Andes asserted.
Creecy said Thursday he's staying on the job. He explains he's been aware of all of the issues and has been working on them, but admits mistakes.
"Where I really fell down as fire chief is in communicating back to the workforce and making sure that message got passed down to the many layers of the chain of command," Creecy confesses. "I wasn't making sure that that word was getting passed down that they knew what we were working on."
Creecy says he inherited the issues from past fire chiefs and blames the poor economy for much of the holdup.
"We are 1/5 of the city's building stock and we compete for that bucket of money and try to figure out where we can best spend that money so that the citizens get served first and the men and women who do it get served second," he added.
Meanwhile, NBC12 reported other inspectors were called into Fire Station 12 in The Fan to do environmental tests there. Thursday evening, a Department of Public Works spokesperson said those results are not in yet. So, it is still uncertain if that crew will also have to be moved out for cleanup.
The state said Thursday inspectors have up to six months to determine their findings and decide if any citations should be issued.
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