Workers at Plymouth firehouse may have been exposed to asbestos, town official warns

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Plymouth officials have uncovered even more issues at a firehouse that was closed just weeks ago due to crumbling concrete, and are now alerting people who may have worked in the building that inspectors found asbestos in plaster samples during recent environmental testing.

Plymouth Town Manager Melissa Grabau Arrighi notified town officials in a Tuesday email that Station 7 will close permanently after test results showed asbestos in a sample of plaster taken from the top of the stairway inside the building on Spooner Street. She also said in an email to town officials that anyone who has worked in the building over the past 10 years will need to be notified of the findings and be tested for asbestos exposure.

It's unclear how many employees of the town — or others — could be affected. Arrighi has asked for lists of workers going back 10 years to try to identify those who should get tested.

Asbestos is considered highly toxic and can cause lung scarring. In some cases, asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fire crews had moved out of the station about two weeks ago after part of the concrete parking bays were crumbling into the basement, and were deemed structurally unsafe to hold the weight of heavy equipment and fire trucks. Firefighters had since returned to Station 7 during the day, and parked their trucks outside, while spending nights based out of the Kingston firehouse, Fire Chief Ed Bradley said. But after the latest test results, they won't be returning to Station 7 anytime soon.

Bradley said work on Station 7, to fix the concrete, scheduled to start Wednesday, has now been put on hold.