SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - Six members of the Southport Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the chief.
The firefighters who tested positive are self isolating, along with twelve other firefighters who were identified as having possible contact with those who have COVID-19. None are in the hospital.
All are asymptomatic and doing well, according to Chief Charles A. Drew. Drew said he was tested and he is negative for COVID-19.
Chief Drew says the department passed along work schedules and call records to the county health department and contact tracers were able to determine who had come in contact with the virus.
The fire department is made up of a crew of 90 to 100 full time and volunteer firefighters. Even with 18 employees isolating at home, he said fire and EMS services have not been interrupted. All of the fire trucks and ambulances remain staffed.
“It has put some hardship on us for staffing, however no fire or EMS interruption in services have occurred. We’ve kept the firetrucks and the ambulances staffed. We’ve even had additional staffing on the ambulance during some protests going on in Southport. We’re committed to making sure we have coverage and the citizens should not be worried about that at all," said Drew. "When you call 911 for help, I don’t want you to be nervous that somebody is coming on a truck that’s been exposed. We’re doing our very best to provide services and the most safe services for our citizens.”
The department is providing extra cleaning and disinfection, giving their employees health screenings before work and ultimately following the advice of the Brunswick County Health Department.
Though the chief says they have been doing everything they can to keep the virus out, they knew there was good COVID-19 would make it in their doors with all the contact first responders have with the public.
Being on the front lines, firefighters know they’re especially at risk of coming in contact with the virus, but Drew says getting the call his firefighters tested positive was still difficult news to hear.
“It’s a little bit unnerving. And we stay concerned, but we are on the front lines responding to calls, we have a lot of interaction with the public even though we have done out best to social distance and keep our hands sanitized we’re doing to be interacting with the public on calls constantly.”