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New Sudbury fire station vacated after potential asbestos found

Temporarily relocating firefighters from the New Sudbury station to the Minnow Lake station has added as much as four minutes in response time to call-outs in the New Sudbury area
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The New Sudbury fire and ambulance station is seen on Leon Street. It has been temporarily closed after asbestos was found during a washroom renovation.

The New Sudbury fire and ambulance station on Leon Street has been temporarily vacated after potential asbestos was stirred up during a washroom renovation. 

The station's four-member crew will work out of the Minnow Lake station on Second Avenue until such time as they can safely return.

In the meantime, New Sudbury area residents can expect firefighters to take up to an additional four minutes to arrive at the scene of an emergency.

The full four minutes would apply to the outer reaches of the New Sudbury station’s response area, Deputy Chief Jesse Oshell told Sudbury.com, noting it’ll also depend on where the truck and crew is at the time of a call-out.

“We’re monitoring all responses at all times anyway, so our senior staff will add to a response if necessary in order to ensure the right resources will still get to that emergency.”

Staff at the New Sudbury station brought the health and safety concern forward on Saturday, Oshell said, noting the potential asbestos was found in a drywall compound during a washroom renovation.

“We’ve looked into the issue and realized that there is the potential. So with that, until we can get results from an investigation we’re in now, we’re going to keep crews out of that station.”

The New Sudbury station was vacated that day, at which time the four-member crew relocated to the Minnow Lake station.

The crew of paramedics stationed in New Sudbury shifted to a roaming status in the New Sudbury area, so their response times shouldn’t be affected.

The City of Greater Sudbury let the public know about the station being vacated in a media release issued late Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after Sudbury.com inquired about the matter while following up on an anonymous tip.

“Due to a concern about proper handling procedures for this type of substance, and the accumulation of dust and debris in the living quarters, the station was closed over the weekend,” according to the media release. “There is no further concern related to the health and safety of employees.”

Oshell said the drywall compound has been sent in for testing, which was performed on Tuesday, and that they expect results by the end of the week.

In addition to potential asbestos abatement, a media release issued by the city noted that the washroom renovation will require water/sewer main work, which will take up to 10 days and will need to be addressed before crews can return to the space.

“Given the age of the station,” Oshell said the washroom renovation resulted in some issues, “so it’s going to cause a disruption in the sanitary sewer, which means no washroom, no shower, for a period of time.”

In the meantime, city staff are looking into options for setting up a temporary location to provide crews a space with access to the city’s main arterial roads required for emergency responses in the New Sudbury area.

The New Sudbury station operates at a career service level, and has four career firefighters on duty at all times when open, in addition to a crew of paramedics.

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