By Rich Pollack
Health concerns have led to the temporary closing of two of Boynton Beach’s oldest fire stations, including the one responsible for responding to calls in most of Ocean Ridge under an agreement between the two municipalities.
Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor said that following the October discovery of air-quality and other problems at Boynton Beach Fire Rescue’s Station 3 on Congress Avenue and Miner Road, the department began investigating the possibility of health issues at other stations. It found mold at Station 1 on Boynton Beach Boulevard, next to City Hall.
Boynton Fire Rescue Chief Ray Carter said that Station 1, which was responsible for calls from portions of Ocean Ridge, has been closed since Dec. 9. He said he did not know when the stations would reopen.
Carter said that since Station 1 shut down, all calls from Ocean Ridge have been handled by crews and apparatus from Station 4, on Federal Highway just south of Woolbright Road.
“We have the residents of Ocean Ridge covered,” Mayor Taylor said. “They shouldn’t have any concerns. We’re fully up to speed.”
Ocean Ridge Police Chief Hal Hutchins said he too was not concerned about the temporary closing and has not noticed any significant negative impacts from closing the station.
Hutchins said he spoke with Carter, who told him response times to the farthest part of Ocean Ridge should increase by only about 25 seconds.
Hutchins said the fire and rescue equipment coming from Woolbright travels about a mile and a half farther than apparatus from Station 1 coming across the Ocean Avenue bridge. He said equipment that has been coming from Station 1 needed to cross railroad tracks to get to Ocean Ridge, whereas apparatus from Station 4 does not have to.
Hutchins said a recent study showed that Boynton Beach has responded to an average of about 250 Ocean Ridge calls a year over a four-year period.
Hutchins also pointed out that police respond to fire and rescue calls and can relay information to responding fire- rescue personnel if necessary.
By Rich Pollack