Mount Vernon mayor uses executive power to approve temporary firehouse on west side
Mount Vernon's mayor has issued an emergency executive order after the City Council refused to approve a temporary fire house on the west side of the city.
Fire officials told leaders they are putting public safety at risk at a special council meeting Friday morning.
Station Four, located on Oak Steet, is closed and it's due to the hazardous conditions inside, according to a posted sign -- conditions firefighters say they have endured for more than a decade.
Holes were seen in the roof, the floor is crumbling into the basement, and water damage is leading to black mold.
"They fight fires, then they come back to the firehouse and there is equal danger in the firehouse as there is in the street," said Kevin Holt, president of the Mount Vernon Uniformed Fire Fighters Union.
The station was shut down under an emergency order roughly three weeks ago due to unsafe conditions. The company now operates a mile away out of Station Three, on the south side of the city.
Holt says he supported the decision to close firehouse. But now, two fire stations are working out of one location, which could decimate their numbers if there's a COVID outbreak.
Fire officials say it's putting public safety on the west side at risk because their ability to respond promptly to fires is delayed by as much as six minutes.
The mayor issued an executive order to approve a temporary firehouse location Friday afternoon after the City Council abruptly ended a special meeting without taking action.
"It's not just about putting them temporarily in another building, it's about putting them temporarily in another location that allows them to maintain the very important strategic physical positioning," said Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard. "We have to put public safety above politics. Period."
News 12 attempted to get a comment from City Council President Marcus Griffith, who went straight into the City Council chambers after the meeting and did not come out.
Patterson-Howard says she expects the firefighters to begin working out of the new temporary location in about two weeks.