CERES, Calif. (KTXL) – A COVID-19 outbreak at the Ceres Fire Department has nearly one-quarter of the department’s firefighters quarantining at home.
“We have a total of seven that have tested positive,” said Ceres fire chief Kevin Wise.
Wise said two firefighters tested positive on Nov. 12.
After one week and two more rounds of department-wide testing later, five others had as well.
“We have one member that’s asymptomatic and hasn’t had any symptoms yet to speak of,” Wise told FOX40. “The rest have had mild to moderate symptoms, with basically fever, chills, congestion, sore throat — the typical symptoms for COVID.”
Now seven of the department’s 29 firefighters are quarantining at home.
The last case was reported Tuesday.
Wise told FOX40 the department is working with County Public Health on contact tracing, and said the positive cases have come from all three fire stations where firefighters often train and interact with each other.
“Since the first diagnosis, I put a stop to any kind of multi-company training, any type of gathering or any meeting in person,” Wise explained.
Wise told FOX40 his firefighters wear PPE and follow protocols, but their jobs put them on the front lines of the virus.
“There are times when we’re on scene in emergencies where we just can’t wear a mask all the time and there’s those situations that we just can’t control,” Wise explained. “But every situation that we can control we’ve put measures in place to keep our personnel safe and the public safe.”
As the department deals with the COVID-19 cluster, other firefighters and neighboring departments are working overtime to keep the city’s fire stations fully staffed.
“Right now, we’re able to cover it, keep our stations open,” Wise said.
He also said every firefighter on duty has tested negative and is ready to respond to any call.
“We will be there in their time of need. You call 911, we’ll be there, just like we have been before,” Wise said.