MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The International Association of Fire Fighters has released a tracking tool that shows which fire departments have reported exposure to COVID-19 or have had employees test positive with the virus.
Firefighters respond to patients who could be infected with coronavirus every day.
“The same way we do going into a fire while people are running out of it, we are running into people’s homes who may have contracted coronavirus,” said Tom Malone, president of the Memphis Fire Fighters Association.
Malone reports 12 Memphis firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
Nearly 200 others have had to be quarantined or isolated after being exposed to family, friends or other firefighters who had the virus. Malone said no firefighters tested positive after patient contact.
According to Malone, the Department is still fully staffed.
“The administration and the union, we got together and we canceled all the vacations,” he told The Investigators. “So we’ve got more than enough. We’ve got every piece of equipment staffed and will in the foreseeable future.”
The Investigators called other fire departments not listed on the tracker to see if they have had employees test positive or been exposed to the virus.
The Collierville Fire Department said two firefighters are quarantined after having contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19.
Bartlett Fire reports one positive test.
Germantown Fire reports that seven firefighters have been quarantined after a possible exposure; one firefighter has been tested for COVID-19 but the results have not been returned.
Horn Lake said three of its firefighters handled a patient with COVID-19 and they have not been quarantined. Instead, they are monitoring the firefighters’ symptoms.
Malone believes 12 positive COVID-19 tests is low when compared to the roughly 1,700 firefighters on staff.
“Thank goodness that we’re in a lot better shape in Memphis than a lot of cities around the country,” he said.
According to Malone, none of the Memphis firefighters tested positive after having contact with a patient. He also said the city has offered enough personal protective equipment to keep firefighters safe while on the job.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that two Collierville firefighters had tested positive for COVID-19. Instead, two Collierville firefighters have been quarantined after having contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19.