In January of 2004, Dothan officials had to close Fire Station Number 2 after tests confirmed the identification of a fungus. The Lakewood station located on Buford Lane had repeated problems with mold. The fire station was reopened later that year. Officials say the problem is now in other city buildings.
Insidious in nature, mold problems have plagued Dothan Fire Stations 4, 6, 8, and 9, and the Wiregrass Museum of Art for years.
When a string of the newly built fire stations were constructed in the early 90's there was one problem. It also seems to be a concurrent problem with the Wiregrass Museum of Art, which was built in 1913. Both seem to have air conditioning units that are too large.
Dothan City Manager Mike West said, “Air conditioning was oversized for the buildings and therefore didn't run long enough to help move the humidity out."
This is the second time this issue has come up. Back in the mid-90’s the same fire stations had the same problem.
Despite costly cleanup, could the answer be faulty design?
"I wouldn't call it faulty design. On the agenda this week is to hire polyengineering to do remedial action to develop a plan long-term to make sure we do solve the problem," said West.
The project will cost an estimated $166,000. The money will come from surplus funds that city officials saved last year.
As far as health problems, city officials say what they are calling, 'black mold' hasn't affected any employees so far.
If it does, however, symptoms could include respiratory problems, emphysema, and possibly death. There will be reshuffling at the museum and fire stations.
Once cleanup begins, art classes at the museum will either be postponed or have a time change. All four fire stations will be temporarily closed. Those stations' firefighters will be moved to either Dothan’s Central Station or Station Number 3.