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Issuing Report, County Says Sheriff’s Building “Deemed Safe To Occupy,” But Sheriff Raises Questions

| July 12, 2018

testing location

A testing sample illustration from the Esi report issued today on the Sheriff’s Operations Center.

A much-anticipated report on the air quality of the Sheriff’s Operations Center, evacuated last month out of concerns that the building is sick, concludes that the building “is not adversely impacted with mold,” that no toxic compounds have been detected from the building’s previous use as a hospital, and that there are no concerns over toxic vapors seeping through the floor slab. Only minor changes to housekeeping and air conditioning programming were recommended as the report found that the AC was not removing humidity in sufficient quanities.

“My understanding is that the building is deemed safe to occupy from all the tests we have conducted to date,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said in an email issued with the report by ESi, the engineering firm, just after 5 p.m. today. But Coffey noted: “Without any medical examination by the doctor the Sheriff has made available, it will be difficult to pursue any further testing by County, other than the one additional test planned,” Coffey wrote, referring to one pending radon test. He said he would direct county staff that works out of the building to start moving back in “as soon as possible after July 25.”

Sheriff Rick Staly received the report in the same email batch that Coffey sent out after 5 p.m., and had not yet had a chance to read it when contacted for a reaction shortly afterward. Staly immediately disseminated the report to all his employees. Coffey had told him of the report around 2:30 p.,m., and that it would be forthcoming. Staly was to meet with his staff at 10:30 a.m. Friday to discuss the report.

“As far as the timeline in Mr. Coffey’s email,” Staly said in a brief interview, ” I wish the county administrator would have been more inclusive in discussing this with me before arbitrarily trying to put wheels in motion to again move my people, and as I said in my email to my employees, I have not accepted that time frame nor the report yet. I have not had a chance to look at it.”

“His timeline was scheduled by him without input from me or our team,” Staly said in the email.

Some 67 sheriff’s employees, including the sheriff’s command staff, evacuated to the Flagler County Courthouse and the sheriff’s old operations center on Justice Lane in June after more than two dozen employees had complained of a variety of issues often associated with sick-building syndrome. The county commission is responsible for all county government facilities, including the sheriff’s, so the county contracted for additional testing at the Operations Center — testing was conducted there last year and found minor issues that were ostensibly remediated at the time.

There is urgency on the county’s part, not just because of the sheriff’s workforce being split between two buildings, but because of the August primary election, with the controversy surrounding the Operations Center tightening what could be a noose around the two incumbents running (Greg Hansen and Nate McLaughlin). The administration is hoping to conclude the matter at this month, with employees returning to the building signaling that the issue has been resolved–assuming the political timing matches up with employees’ comfort level. That remains an open question for now.

The County Commission is holding a workshop on the report Monday.

The conclusion that the building was healthy and employees should move back in was at least to a small degree undermined by two conclusions in the report itself: that recent medical histories of employees were not part of the report’s findings, and that, in the report’s words, “ESi was tasked with identification of potential factors that may be contributing to the reported symptoms. The factors could then be used by medical professionals to evaluate individual employees and determine if they were causative. ESi is not qualified to provide medical causative opinions with respect to the affected employees and no part of this report should be construed as such.”

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The report further explained it this way: “The EPA term ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS) is used to describe situations in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent in a building, but no specific illness or cause can be identified. The complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone or may be widespread throughout the building. In contrast, the term ‘building related illness’ (BRI) is used when symptoms of diagnosable illness are identified and can be attributed directly to airborne building contaminants. The affected employees reported complaints that could be related to SBS. BRI requires medical evaluation of employees. As of the writing of this report, ESi has received no information that would support that BRI has been evaluated or established with respect to the operations center.”

ESi the report states, “did not get access to any medical confirmation of the symptoms as building related illness (BRI) or records to
analyze the information,” though it’s not clear how ESi would have made use of the medical information if, as it acknowledged in a different part of the report, “ESi is not qualified to provide medical causative opinions with respect to the affected employees.” On the other hand, ESi assumed medical information would be conveyed to Dr. Stanley Haimes, the University of Central Florida occupational safety specialist the sheriff hired in light of his employees’ complaints. But employee records have not made it to him.

The report was authored by Zdenek Hejzlar, who goes by Zed, a senior managing consultant at the Fort Myers-based Engineering Systems Inc., after spending one day testing for mold, dust particles and volatile organic compounds at the operations center last month.

Among the Key findings:

“Improved housekeeping and humidity control should be sufficient to return locations of the building that tested with category B levels to Level A – Normal background levels.”

“The results are representative of relatively low mold levels at the sheriff’s operations building. The mold levels in houses and other buildings that are frequented by employees could be significantly higher. ESi has not been provided with any information regarding the employee exposures to mold in these other environments that can comprise up to 2/3 of the time during a day that they do not spend in the building. Potential for those exposures should be considered by medical professionals when evaluating employee symptoms and exposures and when attempting to establish and validate BRI connection to the operations building.”

“There was no evidence that would support the hypothesis that the building materials from the former hospital building contain toxic compounds (heavy metals) that are being released into the indoor environment of the building above normal background levels.”

“The dust levels and different components of dust irritants in houses and other buildings that are frequented by the employees could be significantly higher.”

The full report may be accessed here. The report without attachments is below.

ESi Report on Sheriff’s Operations Center

29 Responses for “Issuing Report, County Says Sheriff’s Building “Deemed Safe To Occupy,” But Sheriff Raises Questions”

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    So Craig Coffey backs up a report that was written by an outside company paid by the county to do an inspection. He then “orders” those poor employees to go back to work in an apparently sick building. Typical.

    Craig Coffey you should be ashamed of yourself. You have over 20 something cases of seriously ill employees and it’s clear those symptoms originated from the work environment. Yet you are ordering them to go back to work. I hope they all mutiny and tell you to go pound sand.

    Sheriff Staly if you don’t do the right thing and refuse to work in that building you are no better off. Shame on you too.

    What we have here is the county not admitting to making a mistake by occupying a sick building. Now people have to pay the price for it.

  2. 107 says:

    Independent testing from someone other than Craig Coffey’s hand chosen minion needs to be done, and it needs to be done by a medical doctor; not by someone that earned a degree at an online one building college which is like obtaining a degree from a Cracker Jack box.

    These employees of Staly’s would be stupid to return to this building before comparison independent testing is done and Staly would be reckless to insist that they did.

    Craig Coffey would like for us voters to think everything is hunky dory but we know the timing of this was manipulated to try and spare McLaughlin and Hansen—-which does nothing for the gross mismanagement of hiring Sally Sherman back at $190,000 and keeping her vacated seat warm till she’s eligible to claim it again. A grand jury needs to be convened and Sherman needs to be put under oath and made to spill the beans. There is no logical reason for this scam other than pay to keep ones mouth shut. And let us not forget it was Greg Hansen and Nate McLaughlin who voted for it!!! This is why we need these two commissioners off the board. We can no longer accepts reckless and incompetent representation.

    Good try Coffey, but we can see through the smoke. You should be fired!!!

  3. Percy's mother says:

    No one answered the questions I brought up a month ago:

    1. What are the credentials of the company that was hired by “the county”.
    2. What are the credentials of the person who did the evaluation and environmental testing?
    3. WHO in the Flagler County hierarchy hired the company that did the environmental testing?
    4. What lab was used to review and evaluate samples collected from the FCSO operations center?

    Who’s going to answer these questions?

    Who is going to become a wistleblower and call in the EPA?

  4. John Brady says:

    some body needs to check Zdenek Hejzlar credentials.

  5. Agkistrodon says:

    Well hen if Coffeyy and the County say it is safe then it is. I so believe you study YOU paid for. That is like me Peer reviewing my own Science Journal article.

  6. 107 says:

    Anyone with half a brain knows why Craig Coffey hand picked who he wanted to do the testing and anyone who knows of Craig Coffey’s shenanigan’s would do an independent study and send the testing to a different lab and compare the results. The person who did the current testing does not have the qualifications that I would trust my life with, let alone those that have been treated for illnesses. The Sheriff would be neglectful to move his staff back into that building without doing his own testing by an impartial independent team. It is evident that Coffey is wanting to dismiss this in hopes of keeping McLaughlin and Hansen in office because they are the ones responsible for his out of control schennigans like hiring Sally Sherman back at a cost to us of $190,000 and keeping her former position vacant for her to return when the waiting period is over. I would like for Sally Sherman to be put under oath and for her to be disposed to see what she knows that she is not talking about!!! This is not normal for sweet heart deals like this and if she were so good Seminole County would have retained her and Coffey!!! Flagler County unfortunately has and has had a bunch of suckers on the BOCC that let those like Coffey and Sherman pull the wool over their eyes. Because we have a BOCC like this we must continue to replace them and hope for better. We were successful at getting George Hanns and Barbara Revels off the payroll, now it is time to get appointed Greg Hansen and Nate McLaughlin off the payroll. Had it not been for Greg Hansen using family members in elected positions to pull strings he probably would never have been appointed—we did not vote him in office, and won’t! His connection to Jack Abramoff and Abramoff’s conviction to federal prison is enough for me to know that I don’t want him holding public office in my county. I can understand why he wanted to be appointed rather than ever run for public office voluntarily.

    We cannot settle for the results of one, additional and more concentrated testing needs to be done!! The health and lives of our law enforcement community deserve it! I would love for Craig Coffey to take a lie detector test…..wouldn’t you? If he didn’t have anything to hid he would volunteer to do so.

  7. Bunnell boy says:

    Another heads up by the county. Don’t take a brain surgeon to realize something wrong with the air quality in that building. All the employee’s that have gotten sick is proof enough! Somebody besides the county needs to have someone do the tests, money always talks.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s Mass Hysteria according to Mr. Coffey’s report that states deputies and other employees are getting more contamination from other buildings and houses they enter. Basically, this is saying the employees are contaminated at their own filthy homes before they come to work. This is typical legal posturing in any injury lawsuit; put the blame on the injured party always. The injured party is always at fault, you filthy , unclean sheriff’s office employees who suffer from mass hysteria, which now has proven from Mr. Coffey’s one time snapshot test after the building was bleached from top to bottom before the testing was done. WHAT A DAMNED POOR JOKE!

  9. Agkistrodon says:

    So move Mr Coffey and his other county employees in there and let the LEO take their offices. I won’t hold my breath.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can you say class action lawsuit? Coffey and company you deserve this. If someone does not call the EPA from those sick, shame on you. The time to act is now! Best of luck to everyone involved.

  11. robert says:

    Move Mr Coffeys office into that building for 6 months and see what happens.

  12. Outsider says:

    I’m curious to know if the employees’ symptoms have resolved since leaving the building.

  13. Dennis McDonald says:

    Just in from the COUNTY LOST and FOUND…

    Yesterday 7/13 the County just found the new Sheriff HQ Certificate of Occupancy even though it had it’s own heading on the Sherffs HQ building file for some time….

    2015/October 2 Sheriff’s Operations Center Cert. of Occupancy and Building Dept Inspection

    As of 8:30 this morning it is not posted…..must be waiting for the ink to dry. I did ask for a chronological listing of all the CofOs given for the last 4 months of 2015 just to may sure #9735 was not out of order. Credibility is a very important factor when dealing with this County Administration.

    Ever since Ruffalo and I discovered that the County Manager demolished 21,000 sq ft of the old hospital [5/2017] without a Florida Department of Environmental Protection [FDEP] PERMIT where Mr Coffey got his bosses[Flagler County Board of Commissioners] fined the MAXIMUM FINE OGC FILE#18-0216 I have questioned Mr Coffey’s CREDIBILITY.

    What is curious is that if anyone of us ever got our bosses FINED the Maximum by a governmental authority we surely would have been FIRED FOR CAUSE or for sure demoted to the mail room. But that’s the real world where the bottom line is your $$$$

    Wondering why the BOCC can not operate that way ? Maybe it’s because they all joined the ” Flagler Governing Club” which allows for Inverted Thinking where you build a new Jail for criminals and renovate a vertical Junk Yard for the Deputies that protect us.


  14. Only Me says:

    Mr. Coffey, if I were those employee’s I would be hiring an attorney to represent them, and I have a suggestion to them hire Michael Avenatti as their attorney. I am sure he would love to take this case.

    I have another suggestion why don’t you Mr. Coffey go work in the building for a couple a months and let us know how you feel after that.

  15. Knows Jack says:

    Clean building, awesome……move Nate, Coffey and Sherman back in there. Sheriff would look good in the GSB!!!

  16. ri·dic·u·lous says:

    OK so… There is no contamination. That dot-the period….after contamination, was, in fact, a PERIOD. As an attorney, there is no lawsuit. No credible attorney would pursue this. Go back to work county employees. Please, stop wasting our (and yours) hard earned money. Sheriff, you have had a SIX MILLION DOLLAR increase in your budget in TWO years for a county that has 100,000 people. You have purchased Mustangs, air boats, fancy uniforms, and numerous other fun things. Please realize that we are paying for all this. Again, THERE IS NO CONTAMINATION…

  17. John Dolan esq. says:

    The test lab is giving the results the person who paid them wants. What about a second opinion from outside Coffeyville?

  18. gmath55 says:

    @ 107 – How do you know Zdenek Hejzlar earned a degree at an online one building college???
    The web site says Zdenek Hejzlar has Ph.D., CSP. Now, 107 try to figure out how an online one building college one would obtain these credentials???

  19. Need New Leadership says:

    Outsider – Yes, their symptoms have virtually gone away. But that is not new news to the leadership in this county. Several of the employees have left the building on two other occasions, only to be ordered back. Each time the symptoms got better or went away. Each time these employees followed orders and returned only to have the symptoms reoccur. The BOCC, Coffey, and Heidi Petito (just to name a few) are fully aware of the roller coaster ride the employees have been on. They are not and will not admit to that in hopes that the public will not continue to follow this story. Please, not only vote the two commissioners out in the primaries, but TALK ABOUT THIS to everyone that you know. We all need to vote them out, and insist that Coffey is relieved of his duties as soon as possible. Need to start with our elected officials and hold the new commissioner’s feet to the fire. Then we can work on getting Faith out as the county engineer, the county attorney out, and everyone who has their hands on this issue and are doing nothing about it.

  20. palmcoaster says:

    First Move Coffey and FCBOCC to the Hospital building while working on the best way to boot Coffey and Dunn.

  21. Facts says:

    Our officials said that about the air quality at the WTC. Many are still dying from that exposure.

  22. anonymous says:

    REALLY?????? Do you even know what you are talking about????? No, you don’t. I don’t care if you are an attorney or not, you have no right to tell anyone to go back to THAT building. THAT building is contaminated and people are actually sick from it. Hey, why don’t you ask to see some of the employee’s medical records, or better yet, talk to the employees that had to quit because they got too sick to work there. GUESS WHAT… THAT BUILDING IS CONTAMINATED.

  23. 107 says:

    Dennis McDonald–Because the BOCC won’t fire Coffey, we are going to fire 2 of them this upcoming election just like we did in 2016 when we voted out of office Barbara Revels and George Hanns. A message has to be sent to the Board of County Commissioners remining them that they work for US and are accountable to US! We can not longer afford this out of control administration. Craig Coffey and Al Hadeed must be terminated and that half million dollars or more that is being spent to employ them needs to be put back into the General Fund. We can hire replacements for far less that can and will far better!!! Before Coffey and Hadeed are fired their golden parachute employment contracts need to be revised and amended removing the golden parachutes! GAME OVER

  24. woodchuck says:

    Dunn and Dumber

  25. Concerned Citizen says:

    We need to keep up the pressure. It’s an election year. We can help these employees by demanding change at the polls.

    1.) Coffey needs to go as he has way to much control and has the current BOCC cowed

    2.) The BOCC needs a wake up call that they serve the citizens of this county not Coffey

    3.) The Sheriff needs to do the right thing and tell Coffey to pound sand. Then refuse to move back into that obvious sick building. If he doesn’t then he needs to go too.


  26. Anonymous says:

    To Anonymous July 13th @ 4:53 pm: You need to read my comment again. I was saying the test is no good because the building was cleaned top to bottom to make the outcome better for Coffey and the two commissioners {who voted to buy and refurbish this sick building up who are presently for re-election} he seems to be protecting. Coffey is telling you that he believes the employees are getting contaminated at home as is the standard procedure in a lawsuit pertaining to a case like this; the contamination is ALWAYS caused by the people who got sick elsewhere and try say their building made them sick. This is what Coffey and the county are trying to show. You misinterpreted my rather overstated and dramatic comments in the first post the wrong way. Relax; I’m on your side in this.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Gmath55-Do you homework as I did. The student body at Philadelphia College of Textile and Science is NOW about 3,500–that is NOT what it was in 1980 when Zdenek Hejzlar received his BS degree in TEXTILE CHEMESTRY. With this level of education I cannot trust his testing of a building that has sickened–we deserve a more qualified and independent person not affiliated with Craig Coffey to do the testing. The collection of samples should have been sent to 2 independent labs and then the results compared. When you have an illness you get a second opinion, so a second opinion should be done in this case. We deserve a second opinion from a qualified well educated individual who does their own lab work and knows what to collect and from whereto collect it in order to get a through testing.

  28. Dave says:

    They just dont like working so close to the projects, they are afraid and disgusted by the people they are suppose to be protecting

  29. john says:

    I am sure some people were sick. But this became a conversation piece in the office and then it became psychosomatic which can produce real symptoms. There are not enough test in the world to overcome this.

    Just sayin…………….

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