KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Firefighters in KCK Fire Station No. 17 at South 51st Street and Gibbs Road don’t like their new roommates very much.
“The current issue with this station here is it was found to have raccoons living in the attic here in the last week to 10 days,” said Bob Wing, president of Local 64 Firefighter’s Union.
The raccoons have been getting in through a hole in the attic, destroying some parts of the firehouse. They’ve been roaming the hallways and making themselves at home in the living quarters.
One firefighter even captured a photo of a raccoon walking across the dining table.
They might look cute and sweet, but raccoons can be vicious — and carry diseases like salmonella, roundworm and rabies, among others.
“We have the issue of what are those raccoons carrying as far as disease with the health aspects of that building and how it affects not only the firefighters at the public building but out in the public with us,” Wing said.
According to Wing, the raccoon infestation highlights the problem of unsafe firehouses that goes well beyond No. 17.
“This is just the most recent incident,” Wing said. “There’s documented evidence from that report that the station at 78th and Kansas — there is structural problems with that building. It’s well-known that we’re not sure if that building is not gonna come in at some point. That’s not exaggeration.”
FOX4 previously reported on a 2015 study commissioned by the Unified Government that found the majority of firehouses were not up to code and should be repaired or replaced.
Wing said still, nothing has been done.
“I don’t believe that any elected official in Wyandotte County is going to believe this is acceptable, the fact they’re on record saying it’s not acceptable,” Wing said. “It ends up in the Administrators Office. That’s who has the purse strings. That’s who has the say-so.”
Wyandotte County Administrator Doug Bach was not available to FOX4 for an interview, but his public information officer sent this statement which reads in part:
“County Administrator Doug Bach is presenting the proposed 2020 budget this evening, which includes funding for repairs and the replacement of fire stations in future years. We are reviewing the conditions at all of the fire stations to begin planning for needed improvements. A new fire station is currently under construction.”
The KCK Fire Department also sent a statement regarding the raccoons:
“The Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department is aware of the recent incident at fire station #17 at 2416 S. 54th Street concerning raccoons. The Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department took immediate action once we were made aware of this situation which included contacting animal control, a private critter control company, roof, and carpenter contractors were contacted also. At this time, there has been no more evidence of the presence of raccoons at fire station #17, and the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department will continue to monitor and take appropriate measures to rectify and prevent future incidents concerning raccoons at station #17.”
Firefighters who live in that house believe there is still a raccoon living in the attic.