24 firefighters on leave in Tuscaloosa after being exposed to coronavirus

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE (4/1): A Tuscaloosa firefighter tested positive for COVID-19. Because of this, two dozen other firefighters who worked the same shift were sent home on paid leave.

Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Smith said they were made aware of the positive COVID-19 case Tuesday night. Smith said although they’re sending firefighters home, it has not impacted their ability to serve their community.

“We would like to reassure the community that Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue remains fully capable of responding to their needs. We’d like to remind everyone that our station is closed to the public unless it’s an emergency to protect the personnel that would be responding to help you in your time of need,” said Smith.

Wednesday morning, a total of 31 firefighters were on administrative leave. After test results of a different firefighter came back negative, 7 firefighters were able to return to work.

“One other firefighter who was identified as a person under investigation, or PUI, has received negative test results, which allowed seven firefighters to return to work,” said Smith.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said the coronavirus will impact all first responders in the days and weeks to come.

“It’s going to be a part of this new dynamic. We cannot stop our interactions with the people who pay our salaries. That means higher levels of exposure. When that happens, we have to do everything we can to protect our people and to protect their families.”

Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service has 247 firefighters and first responders. The chief will not be releasing which station the positive COVID-19 firefighter worked.

ORIGINAL (4/1): A firefighter with the Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service recently tested positive for coronavirus, causing 31 other firefighters who worked their shift to be put on paid leave.

According to Holly Whigham, public information officer for Tuscaloosa Fire, said the department was made aware of the firefighter’s COVID-19 diagnosis. As a precaution, the other firefighters that worked that same shift have been put on leave.

Whigham said that at this time, the leave could last upward of two weeks, but that they would monitor the situation.

Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service has approximately 247 firefighters and first responders.


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