JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 and hundreds of firefighters have been quarantined, according to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.
JFRD conducted more than 300 tests over the weekend. Fire Chief Keith Powers said Monday that 232 JFRD employees were in quarantine, 33 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19. That has left 77 vacancies per shift. JFRD has three total shifts.
Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said the department was lucky early on to avoid a lot of positive cases within the department. But when firefighters do get sick, Wyse said, they are trained to do perform multiple job duties.
“On the day when people are off in quarantine, we have these people who can backfill those positions, and you never miss a beat. I think the department has done a great job of making sure everyone is well trained,” Wyse told News4Jax on Monday.
Wyse said firefighters are trying their best to steer clear of the coronavirus, but some situations are unavoidable. He said some quarantined firefighters were staying in hotels to avoid spreading the virus to their families.
“Obviously, no one wants to go through a quarantine process. It really disrupts your whole life,” Wyse said. “These men and women are out there doing heroic things daily, doing their the regular jobs, and then add COVID on top of that, and if they’re positive, the problem we have is now we’re going home with it. What do you do with your family and those kind of things. We have some members staying in hotels until they get test results back so they don’t affect their families.
Wyse said he expects everyone in the department to have been tested for COVID-19 by the end of the week.