Posts Tagged firefighters test positive for COVID-19

Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19 (more)

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Springfield’s fire department reported 73 total firefighters in quarantine Friday, along with a total of 19 who had tested positive for COVID-19. This comes after firefighters reported 37 people were quarantined on Nov. 9. Twelve firefighters had tested positive for the virus at that time. 

All fire stations are open and providing services but Engine 2 and Engine 12 will not be operating until further notice due to the change in numbers. Both engines are part of a multi-company station house. 

“While this is not ideal, it is our current reality with so many of our members who have been exposed,” said Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne. “The department will begin working with our regional hospitals to determine if our methodology for quarantine, which we have used since day one, is still supported by CDC.”

This is a temporary shutdown and the department will be working hard to get firefighters back quickly while keeping the safety of everyone in mind. 


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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19

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Fire departments in central Illinois have created contingency plans in case firefighters are infected with coronavirus.

This week twelve Springfield firefighters contracted COVID-19, including Chief Allen Reyne. The outbreak within the department caused a total of 37 firefighters to isolate or quarantine. The outbreak was traced back to a house party. Reyne said, “Once you get two or three positives, now you have to look back through contact tracing, who worked with who, what calls they ran together. We’ve done that over the last few days. At one point, we were at 48. Pretty quickly, we got that number down to 37.” Despite the big setback the department is still running on a full staff. But with fewer firefighters available, they are racking up the overtime.

The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal shares daily stats on how COVID-19 has affected departments in Illinois. Champaign Fire Deputy Chief Tyler Funk said, “Since March 17th, there have been 2,039 firefighters that have been directly affected by this COVID-19 virus, and it effects 182 fire departments across the state. Those numbers include firefighters that have either been placed into quarantine or have tested positive.”

The pandemic has forced departments to prepare if exposure happens in their areas. In June, a Champaign firefighter had to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. Twelve other firefighters self-quarantined as well. The department has made adjustments to adapt to the health and safety risks since the pandemic started. Funk said, “We’re doing symptom based checks in the morning before they enter the workplace. We’re obviously wearing masks and staying socially distant within the department.”

Smaller villages, like Tolono, have a volunteer department. They have also made changes to operations. Assistant Chief Chris Humer said, “Not as many responders will go inside of a house, for your average medical call, it may just be one or two.” With nineteen firefighters on their force, they can not afford a significant loss in staff. “We have contingency plans set up with mutual aid departments, such as Savoy. We’re in constant contact with their administrative team as well, consistently talking about staffing levels,” said Humer.

Both large and small fire departments have similar plans for coronavirus outbreaks. If they can’t make up for a loss in staff with their own firefighters, they have agreements with nearby departments for mutual aid.

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Fire service news – Coronavirus COVID-19, Elgin Fire Department

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A third Elgin firefighter tested positive for COVID-19. One firefighter is under quarantine at a hotel where the city reserved a block of rooms for personnel that allows them to keep their family safe from any possible exposure.  Two other firefighters chose to isolate at home.

Over the last few weeks, the Elgin Fire Department has had seven firefighters who’ve been isolated due to possible exposure to COVID-19. Only those who showed symptoms were tested.  The test results are available within 24 hours, and the positive cases came back April 23, April 30, and May 1.

The fire department has notified its employees and has recommended that they stay home should they begin to feel ill. Shifts are being covered with overtime if needed.

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