The FOX 8 I-TEAM has found the COVID-19 outbreak has hit dozens of Cleveland firefighters, and this comes months after a firefighter contracted COVID and died. The union says the fire department is dealing with more firefighter COVID cases at one time than ever before. As of this week, 31 firefighters have tested positive and six more are waiting for test results.
Local 93 President Francis Lally said, “I had it about a month ago, myself. You just never really know when you’re gonna get it. How you’re gonna get it.”
Back in August, Cleveland firefighters had to say goodbye to Lieutenant Rich Petras, who died after complications from COVID-19.
Firefighters, of course, run on medical emergencies all the time exposing themselves to citizens sick with COVID and more.
“We’re seeing more and more cases out there in the public at large,” said Lally.
We also think of firefighters at their stations having meals together. But, now they’re getting reminders. No big gatherings. Keep wearing a mask. Do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A broadcast went to firefighters over their radios multiple times on Wednesday. The announcement said, in part, “Stand by for headquarters communications. All members shall wear masks while inside of any Division of Fire facility.” We contacted a fire department spokesman, and he said he couldn’t answer any questions about this.
Later, City Hall released a statement that said, in part, “For individuals’ privacy, CDPH (Cleveland Dept. of Public Health) will not be releasing any additional demographic info related to COVID-19 cases aside from age range and gender.”
Meantime, the city did not provide anyone to answer any questions about what this outbreak means for the fire department or the public.
The union says firefighters are working overtime to fill in for those sick, and the city has provided equipment to disinfect fire stations.
“Been a slow uptick. We’re watching it very closely. We’re taking every case very seriously.”
He added, while dozens of firefighters are currently recovering from COVID-19, the Department has a total of roughly 700 firefighters,” said Lally.
Behind the battle to keep you safe, firefighters are battling to keep themselves safe from the growing danger of COVID-19.