City of Jasper fire trucks and emergency vehicles on the backside of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center on East Church Street, where they are operating from temporarily.
Jasper firefighter quarters have been temporarily relocated after an inspection found mold at the Jasper Fire Station on Burton Street. As of press time, mold remediation efforts were underway and it was anticipated the crew would be moved back to the station by the end of the week.
Firefighters were relocated to Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) on Church Street, in the old Pickens High School building.
The initial inspection was paid for by firefighters who felt like they were working in unsafe conditions. Firefighters told the Progress the city refused to conduct a test after they were approached about the issue. All 12 firefighters split the $395 cost of a professional
test, which was performed by Certified Inspectors of America on March 7, 2021. In a summary of their findings, the report states, “The results came back with a total fungi count that was ‘Slightly Elevated’ to ‘Elevated’ with regards to the ‘total fungi’ spore counts. There is remediation that needs to, at the very least, take place in the attic and may need to take place in the living areas as well.”
City Manager Brandon Douglas said firefighters have since been reimbursed for those inspection costs. He noted that in situations such as these, it is “better to follow with the city’s purchasing policy,” but that they were able to make this approach work.
Douglas solicited three bids for remediation, and received two. They accepted a bid from No Mold Atlanta for around $9,700 for the turnkey project. After cleanup, the city will pay for a post-remediation inspection to be performed by Certified Inspectors of America.
Jasper Fire Chief Steve Roper said operations have been going smoothly in the temporary facility, and disputed claims about poor conditions there.
“People are saying they’ve got no A/C, but this morning it was 62 degrees in there,” Roper said. “They’ve got A/C, showers, internet, TV, fridge, coffee maker, new mattresses. All they don’t have access to is a full kitchen.”
The mold problem surfaced just a week after issues over low pay among firefighters exploded publicly. An entire shift of firefighters did not report for one day after ongoing complaints that they were underpaid and had been refused a raise they were promised. Firefighters did not confirm the mass call-out was a response to low pay, and at least one said he called in sick, but the Progress reported several of them had been put on probation and one demoted as a result of being out that shift.
Since that time there have been no changes to the pay scale, but the city manager repeatedly said pay for all city employees has been on his radar since he was hired in 2019. The topic came up at city council’s March work session. Douglas added that the mayor sets the regular meeting agenda and that they will have to see if it comes up at the May council meeting.