73 Ill. FD FFs are quarantined, including 19 who have tested positive for COVID-19
All Springfield fire stations remain open, but two engine companies are being taken out of service, reducing staffing at those stations
The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — More than one-third of Springfield's firefighters are in quarantine as a COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread through the department.
Seventy-three firefighters are quarantined, including 19 who have tested positive for the virus.
All fire stations remain open and are providing service to residents.
But two of the city's 12 fire engines will not be in operation until further notice, according to city officials. The engines in question are each part of a multi-company station house.
"While this is not ideal, it is our current reality with so many of our members who have been exposed," said Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne. "The department will begin working with our regional hospitals to determine if our methodology for quarantine, which we have used since day one, is still supported by CDC."
The engines taken out of operation are from Station 2, 2810 Stevenson Drive, and Station 12, 2925 S. Koke Mill Road.
The stations are also each home to one of the city's three truck companies, which carry features like ladders and extrication equipment.
Reyne said the decision to take the engines out of operation was done due to the manpower shortage as well as a desire to better socially distance as the stations in question are both small.
So instead of two companies with six people present at each station, there will be one with three.
"So they're taking those off and that brings down your manning level to alleviate individuals that are needed," said Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder.
Calls for service where an engine, which carries water, is needed will be covered by surrounding stations, Reyne said.
Departments from surrounding communities will assist as needed as well.
The number of firefighters in quarantine has nearly doubled since Monday, when it was announced that 37 were isolating, including 12 who had tested positive.
According to officials, the majority of firefighters came into contact with an individual who was asymptomatic at an outside gathering, not on work time. The individual was not a Springfield firefighter.
There were no firefighters quarantined as of Oct. 29.
Reyne, who remains in isolation after testing positive for the virus on Nov. 2, said more than 50 firefighters are scheduled to be tested over the next four days.
"The positives we're catching, a lot of them are shocked they had it," Reyne said. "We're catching some people that would have been walking around possibly spreading it."
Despite the significant number of firefighters out of commission, Reyne said the temporary shutdown of the two engines would be the only impact on operations besides an increase in overtime.
But, even that is presenting challenges, noting how a firefighter picking up an overtime shift in at another station could potentially expose more to the virus.
"We're going have to take draconian steps to try to limit the movement between the firehouses," Reyne said.
The Springfield Fire Department has 214 sworn firefighters.
(c)2020 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.