Mold infestation evicts S.F. firefighters from station

The firefighters are currently working out of a cinderblock training center and sleeping in a classroom; the situation could last four more years

SAN FRANCISCO — For the past seven months, firefighters have been without a permanent fire station due to an infestation of black mold.

KTVU reported that the crews were working at Station 48 on Treasure Island, which was built decades ago by the Navy and was severely run down.

"It was pretty bad," San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Steven Williams said. "When it would rain, it would leak really bad. We'd put out buckets, and it was pretty deplorable."

The firefighters are now working out of a cinderblock training center. The 11 crew members are currently sleeping in classroom, according to the report.

"We've adapted so far, but we can only adapt so long before eventually the morale takes a dive," Lt. Williams said.

Mayor Ed Lee visited the site on Monday and told the firefighters the city will expedite the building of a new $1.5 million firehouse, according to the report.

"Cut the time hopefully in half of what we usually would do it," Mayor Lee said. "I think our firefighters deserve it."

The announcement came after the call for the removal of Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White over ambulance delays, staffing levels, lawsuits and other issues in the department.

"I do think by and large the general membership is appreciative and very proud to be a member of the San Francisco Fire Department," Chief Hayes-White said. "Along the way, they know that there's issues that need to be addressed and they look to me addressing them, and that's what I'm doing."

Chief Hayes-White's critics say efforts to build better housing for Station 48 firefighters have dragged on for too long.

"This should've been done in March or April of this year. Again, these conditions were horrid and this should've been addressed as it was happening," Fire Fighters Local 798 President Tom O'Connor said. "You wouldn't do it to someone in public housing, you wouldn't do it to a college student, and you shouldn't do it to a firefighter. Nobody should live in a classroom."

City officials say a permanent firehouse is set to start construction in 2018 once the entire island is remodeled, according to the report.

Firefighters said they'll hold department and city leaders to their promise.

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