Friday, January 10, 2014

FOIA Friday: Fire Station Four has been closed for renovations

On December 20, 2013, Ann Arbor News reporter Ryan Stanton broke the news that Fire Station Four was closed in order to repair mold damage and address air quality issues in the building. This was news to members of Ann Arbor City Council, who found out about it by reading the News. Fire Station Four is located on Huron Parkway near its intersection with Platt Road, and it services the city's east side.

On that same day, I filed a FOIA request with the City of Ann Arbor asking for Fire Station Four records - correspondence about the closing, contracts for remediation, test results and the like. I got word on December 31 that my FOIA would be delayed by 10 business days, and I expect to get the results on or about January 15. This is typical for a slow response, compounded of course by holidays, completely within the letter of the law.

Clearly Damn Arbor is not going to break any urgent news by waiting for FOIAs to come in, but the process of asking formally for records has a positive side effect: you can get cooperation from officials to forward you documents in advance of the formal request coming back from the clerk.

After the break, a copy of the letter from City Administrator Steve Powers to City Council with the description of what happened and what is being done (emphasis added). Thanks to CM Jack Eaton for this document, which can also be found on the Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository (a2docs). It shows the urgency of the reopening of the station - calls from the Fire Station Four service area are taking more than 9.5 minutes to respond to, compared to just over 6 minutes systemwide.

Sent: Monday, January 06, 2014 5:10 PM

Council Member Eaton,

You requested additional detail regarding Fire Station Four.  Station Four is on Huron Parkway near Platt. The station’s Engine Four was moved to Station One on November 22.  The move was expected to be no more than two weeks while air quality concerns were investigated. The investigations, clean-up work, and holidays have resulted in a longer than anticipated closure.  I regret not informing council members prior to my December 20 update report.

Mold remediation and asbestos abatement have been successful in eradicating unacceptable levels of airborne mold.  Work that remains before the firefighters can return to the station includes replacing 
areas of flooring and ceiling.  Mattresses are also being replaced.  The flooring and ceiling work is 
estimated to be less than $3,000.    

The contractors have been and will be selected according to City purchasing policies.   

The scheduled date for the return to Fire Station Four is by the end of this week or early the week of 
January 13.  Reopening the station is a priority to reduce response times in Station Four’s service area. 
From November 22 to December 20, 2013 calls for service in Station Four’s Area: 
• There were 58 total calls for service. 
o 15 calls were cancelled.  
o 1 call was non-emergent. 
• Of the 42 remaining calls: 
o 26 calls were medical related in which HVA also responded. 
o 7 were alarm calls. 
o 4 Motor Vehicle Accidents with Injury 
o 2 Odor Investigations 
o 1 Electrical Wire Down 
o 1 Structure Fire – Appliance - Appliance electrical surge protector causing fire damage to 
appliance and floor.  No other significant damage. 
o 1 Structure Fire – Single Residence – Smoke from Chimney.  House ventilated with some 
smoke damage.  No other significant damage. 

While deployed out of Station One, Engine Four also responded to 15 additional calls for service due to their deployment location. 
Average response times for these 42 calls was 9:43.  This is an increase in response time due to deployment out of Station One.  The department average response time was approximately 6:13.  
No stations have closed because of staffing levels. There are no rolling closures. 
Steve Powers 
City Administrator 
City of Ann Arbor 

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