BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Boardman Fire Department is working to shuffle employees and plan for support while dealing with coronavirus testing and cases in the department.
The health department alerted Chief Mark Pitzer to the first confirmed case Monday morning. Five firefighters have now tested positive, and eight firefighters have been quarantined, including Pitzer.
“When we are doing is contact tracing for these five people and who they’ve been associated with and working with. I have eight additional firefighters right now that are in quarantine,” Pitzer said.
Due to the firefighters being essential employees, those eight, as long as they continue testing negative, will continue to work during their quarantine.
Boardman Township isn’t a very big fire department. Twelve people alone make up a shift, and 13 is pretty much one-third of the department. Overtime is being used to help cover for the five firefighters that have tested positive.
“If I kept these firefighters that are quarantined off for the full two weeks not working, It would essentially affect our fire operations. It would affect our staffing and ultimately cause a station closure,” Pitzer said.
As essential workers, Pitzer says that’s really not an option they want to explore. The department hasn’t had any new positives cases since March. Now it’s hitting all at once, spreading across 2 of their three shifts at two different stations.
“We are hoping that it is just limited to this 13, but I can’t say that for sure. We’re hoping that we caught this thing, and we’re getting it managed here relatively quickly,” Pitzer said.
Pitzer said he has also reached out to Youngstown, Canfield and Austintown for assistance if they need to call them for mutual aid due to the staffing issues.
“We are committed to serving our community. We will be sure to have people staffed here that will be able to respond at a moment’s notice for any type of emergency that occurs,” Pitzer said.
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