Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's firefighter tests positive for COVID-19, a total of 36 self-isolating

Sixteen firefighters are self-isolating due to contact tracing from a staff member testing positive. Another 20 were already isolating due to possible exposure outside the workplace.
New crews are needed at the Paradise and Brookfield fire stations, after other employees had to self-isolate following a positive COVID-19 test. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

A front-line member of the St. John's Regional Fire Department has tested positive for COVID-19, which has prompted the department to send 16 other employees home to self-isolate.

That's in addition to 20 firefighters who were already in isolation for other possible exposure unrelated to the workplace. 

"It certainly brings concern, no different than any other organization who starts to see numbers being impacted," said Chief Sherry Colford late Wednesday afternoon. 

But, she said, there are contingency plans in place and there have been no issues to date covering the shifts of firefighters in isolation.

"Myself and the team will continue to work with the issues we have to ensure we continue to provide a service to our region," she said. 

The department has 176 permanent, full-time firefighters, with 12 temporary positions, and 36 are in self-isolation. 

The employee who tested positive for COVID-19 had recently reported for work at both the Brookfield and Paradise fire stations. 

Those two stations were offline, or out of service, for a part of the day. 

Brookfield Fire Station is expected to have a new crew by 5 p.m. Wednesday, after enhanced cleaning, said Colford. 

Paradise Fire Station is operational and a new crew has already reported for duty.

"The SJRFD has protocols in place so that emergency response can be maintained throughout the region by moving existing apparatus to cover two districts while new staff are being brought in," reads a media release issued by the City of St. John's. 

The fire department says people will be notified of any direct contact with the affected staff, though it is confident in the personal protective equipment used when responding to calls. 

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