HELOTES -- A group of firefighters is taking a stand, saying they're being forced to breathe harmful air. The problem, they say, isn't smoke, or exhaust, but mold.
Carl Hudson, a captain at the Helotes Fire Department, says that the problem has existed for five or six years, ever since their fire station was built with, what he says, is a faulty ventilation system.
The result is a persistent mold problem that causes allergy symptoms that, Hudson says, get worse by the day.
"Eyes burning, nose, throat,” Hudson described. “We're there 24 hours, so you wake up in the morning congested, ears plugged up."
Hudson says that the city started trying to fix the issue two years ago, repeatedly hiring contractors to clean out the system. Each time it alleviates the problem, but only for a little bit.
The only permanent solution, Hudson says, it to completely redo the ventilation system from the ground up.
"It's not like they're not trying. They're just not getting down and dirty and starting from scratch," Hudson said.
Hudson admits that it’s likely a huge expense, but for him, it’s a no-brainer. He says the health effects may not do permanent damage but they’re inescapable due to the fact that firefighters can’t wear protective equipment all day in the station. He also says that the allergies become increasingly severe to the point where he and others are experiencing breathing problems and burning even when outside the station.
He also says his attempts to find a permanent solution with the city have come up short.
"The mayor said if I didn't like it, to sue him,” Hudson said.
KENS 5 attempted to reach city officials, but nobody was immediately available.
Hudson says that it doesn’t make sense to try taking legal action, but he doesn’t want to allow his team to continue suffering either.
"I'm a captain there, so my priority is the safety of my guys,” Hudson said. “How can I not stand up and fight for them, for their health in the building?"
(© 2016 KENS)