Ill. fire chief back on job after battling COVID-19, most FFs out of quarantine
Ten Springfield firefighters remain quarantined, down from a high of 73 last week
The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The number of Springfield firefighters quarantined as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak has dropped dramatically and two engines sidelined because of personnel are in operation again, Chief Allen Reyne said Monday.
Reyne was back at the helm after testing positive for COVID-19 and missing nearly two weeks of work.
Reyne admitted the virus left him "as sick as I've ever been in my 50 years on the planet. It was a miserable 10 days."
Reyne has been Mayor Jim Langfelder's point person for the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ten firefighters remained quarantined, down from a high of 73 last week. In all, 19 have tested positive for the virus.
There are 215 firefighters on staff.
"Our numbers are looking good," Reyne said, "and hopefully we've hit our peek."
Two engines taken out of operation Thursday night from Station 2, 2810 Stevenson Drive, and from Station 12, 2925 S. Koke Mill Rd., were returned Saturday night.
None of the firehouses were closed, Reyne said.
There was a fire in Engine 12's district in the 1200 block of Wakefield Sunday morning, but a full crew was able to respond.
The department didn't have its first positive case until Sept. 2, a fact, Reyne said, "I'm proud of. They were doing all the right things, wearing the PPE (personal protective equipment) correctly. We had a lot of scares. We had people who had family members positive so that caused them to become quarantined and we had people who did exactly what we asked them to do, when they had any symptoms at all, they stayed home and away from other people."
Reyne said he has taken the virus seriously "from day one" and he has kept politics out of any decision he has made personally or professionally when it comes to COVID-19.
A majority of firefighters who were infected, including Reyne, came into contact with an individual who was asymptomatic at an outside gathering, not on work time. The individual was not a Springfield firefighter.
Reyne admitted he made the error that he had often cautioned people against.
"I got comfortable," Reyne said. "I was comfortable sitting with somebody I've known for a long time.
"I feel like if I can get it, anybody can."
Reyne said he wouldn't have wished his illness "on anybody" and while "most people that I know who had it fared better than me, I'm well aware of the fact that many did not, that many people didn't survive that, that many people didn't get to say goodbye to loved ones. I was never there, but I was very sick."
(c)2020 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.