PLYMOUTH, MASS. (WHDH) - Plymouth firefighters have been forced out of their headquarters after a partial roof collapse left the building unusable, and the fire chief says long-standing neglect of the building has created a potentially deadly situation.

The roof and ceiling of the department’s headquarters partially collapsed during a multimillion-dollar repair project earlier this week, making the building unusable, according to Fire Chief Edward Bradley.

Debris coated the building’s interior, and for the first time in 50 years, the department is not operating fire trucks out of the structure.

The crews that worked in the building have been relocated to a station in West Plymouth, but that means they’ll have longer response times to the city’s downtown, which Bradley called “unacceptable” and potentially life-threatening.

“It increases the response time to the downtown area, where we have some very old buildings, by three and a half to four minutes, and that’s unacceptable,” Bradley said. “In that period of time, instead of having a one-room fire it could be a whole block. Instead of someone having smoke inhalation, they could be dead.”

Bradley said the building has been neglected for decades. The city is bringing in trailers so crews can work out of the site by the end of the week, but Bradley said there needs to be a permanent solution.

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