Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department has been hit with COVID-19, leaving eight out of 20 firefighters in isolation, the City of Prince Rupert announced Thursday, Jan. 6.
Those in isolation include a mix of members who have tested positive or are awaiting test results.
Health and emergency services will not be compromised due to current procedures and systems in place, deputy fire chief Jeff Beckwith told The Northern View, adding that on Jan. 5 the detachment successfully attended and extinguished a house fire in the city.
“The continuation of service is done with a day shift of four staff and a night shift of four staff and is viable in the short term through overtime. We are very grateful to our remaining staff for picking up the slack during the shortage,” the city-issued news release stated.
Residents are being advised to do their part in fire prevention, especiall with space heaters and other appliances used to keep warm in the current cold snap.
Earlier reports by other regional media stated that 13 members were in isolation but five firefighters have since tested negative for the respiratory illness or have finished their required isolation, said Veronika Stewart, communications manager for the city.
She added that Prince Rupert Fire Rescue staff are managing, even though this is not a desirable position for the department.
“Although this is a dynamic situation, given B.C.’s recent announcement of shorter five-day isolation periods for vaccinated persons, we anticipate overall staffing levels to increase in the coming days.”
The city said that in extreme emergency scenarios, Port Edward volunteer department’s 13 trained members could be called upon.
“Should it be absolutely necessary, those nearing the end of their isolation period whose symptoms are diminishing may also be called in, with additional COVID measures in place to protect the public and existing staff from potential spread if that is required.”
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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