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Asbestos abatement plan being drafted for New Sudbury station

There’s still no clear timeline for the New Sudbury emergency services station’s reopening, with the city working on an asbestos abatement plan
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The New Sudbury emergency services station (No. 3) is seen on Leon Street.

The New Sudbury emergency services station (No. 3) remains closed as the city continues to work on drafting an asbestos abatement plan.

“We’ve been working diligently to ensure we are removing it, cleaning it and making it a safe space,” Deputy Chief Jesse Oshell told Sudbury.com, noting the fibrous material which can lead to serious illnesses was found in the station’s living quarters.

“We’re going to work with the contractor to hopefully get this done as quickly as we possibly can,” he added. “Our primary goal here is a safe working space for our firefighters and paramedics, and in conjunction with that, to get them back into the response area of New Sudbury.”

The Leon Street emergency services station has been closed to fire and paramedic staff since Oct. 3 to accommodate renovations. At the time, the closure was expected to last up to four weeks.

A Facebook post by the Sudbury Professional Fire Fighters Association noted last week that asbestos had been discovered on surface swabs within the station, which resulted in it remaining closed.

The issue with asbestos in the building is not new and is related to the building materials used at the time of the station’s construction in 1974. 

The renovation’s construction tender was awarded to Sudbury-based Magnum Constructors Inc. last year at a cost of $198,000, and includes the washroom, change room and shower facilities.

A report within the tender documents clarified that chrysotile asbestos was found in vinyl floor tile and drywall joint compound, and that all drywall with drywall joint compound in the building “is considered asbestos-containing.”

Various other materials were cited as “potentially asbestos-containing,” including those limited within concealed locations.

“Removal of all asbestos-containing materials must be conducted before any renovation activities that may damage these materials,” according to the report. 

“We don’t know specifically what’s been disturbed and where (the asbestos) came from,” Oshell said, describing the building materials at play as typical for what you’d find in something built in the 1970s. “Despite our best efforts to contain it, we’re still finding some.”

City staff, fire services administration and health and safety committee members met on Monday to draft a plan for firefighter and paramedics’ safe return, and Oshell said this work is ongoing. It will include not only abatement but ongoing testing to ensure staff are safe to return.

Although he doesn’t have a timeline in mind, he clarified, “This isn’t going to be months, this is going to be a matter of hopefully a short number of days.”

Even then, renovations will remain ongoing. 

The next phase of renovations is within a self-contained area isolated from the rest of the building. It involves installing a new locker room facility.

“We need to ensure we are recognizing our female firefighters and ensuring we have a proper locker room, shower, decontamination change room facility for all of our people,” Oshell said.

“We’re not putting anyone back until we’re absolutely certain and in agreement with our firefighters and paramedics and our (City of Greater Sudbury) staff and health and safety committees that the space is safe, and we’re good to return.”

In the meantime, New Sudbury firefighters have been relocated to the Minnow Lake station.

When the New Sudbury station’s temporary closure was first announced in October, response times were estimated to increase by “two to five minutes, depending on location.”

Sudbury Professional Fire Fighters cited “potential delays of up to 10 minutes” in their Facebook post, which Oshell clarified to Sudbury.com last week would apply to the extreme western edge of the Station 3 response area, which is in the area of Tracks and Wheels on Old Highway 69 in Val Caron and is not a residential area.

In this area, firefighters would be responding to motor vehicle collisions for the most part, not residential fires which often require a quicker response from fire services due to the nature of the emergency, Oshell said. 

While there is potential for a 10-minute delay to the Tracks and Wheels area, Oshell characterized that possibility as extreme.

The paramedics typically stationed at the New Sudbury building have shifted to a temporary location at 1617 Havenbrook Dr.

While at their temporary location in a residential property surrounded by private households, paramedics have pledged to “make every effort to reduce vehicle idling, except when necessary to sustain equipment and supplies that are sensitive to heat and cold conditions,” according to a city media release issued in early October. They also plan on minimizing the use of flashing lights and sirens when leaving the location.

The New Sudbury emergency services station also closed in January after potential asbestos was found during a washroom renovation. Subsequent testing revealed no asbestos was found.

With files from Sudbury.com editor Mark Gentili

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
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