JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday night passed two emergency bills that allow former Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department members and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police and corrections officers to come out of retirement to help respond to the coronavirus crisis.
The proposals, announced by Mayor Lenny Curry during a virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon, allow recently retired first responders to return to work without impacting their pensions. Both JSO and JFRD said those who opt for that will have to meet state certifications for fitness.
“This is similar to actions taken at the state level a few weeks ago,” Curry said. “We’ll put experienced, knowledgeable professionals back on the street at a time when our community needs them to respond to this crisis. I’m thankful for first responders who will answer the call to serve once more."
Retired Capt. Bill Langley worked for 27 years at JFRD, and now he could be coming back.
“(When JFRD calls and says, 'we need help,’) you get in your truck and you come. It doesn’t matter whether it’s to hand out masks or ride an engine company -- whatever they need us to do,” Langley said. “It’s exactly like riding a bike. I’ve been retired two years now and I still feel like I’m on vacation. I expect to go back to work anytime.”
During Tuesday’s news conference, JFRD Chief Keith Powers also said two more JFRD members were placed in quarantine after showing symptoms, bringing the total of JFRD members in quarantine to 79. Powers said 26 of those firefighters are expected back next week.
“We’re following CDC guidance and the Department of Health. Once they’ve tested, they still have to clear that 14-day window before we can get them back, and so that kind of puts us a little bit of a deficit,” Powers said.
Three Jacksonville firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19.