President of firefighters’ union calling for more protective gear as 5 test positive for COVID-19

BOSTON (WHDH) - The president of a firefighters’ union in the Bay State is calling for more protective gear after he says firefighters in several communities tested positive for the coronavirus.

At least five firefighters in the Bay State have been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to President of the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts Richard MacKinnon Jr.

Two of the five are reportedly Boston firefighters, with 17 more self-quarantining at home.

In a statement to 7NEWS, the Interim Commissioner Jack Dempsy said, “Protecting the health and safety of our members at the Boston Fire Department is a top priority. We have reviewed our policies to make the changes necessary to ensure we are following the necessary guidance from public health officials, such as maintaining adequate supplies and actively practicing social distancing in our firehouses to minimize any potential exposure.”

In Brookline, station five is back open after temporarily closing for a thorough disinfection when a firefighter in their town tested positive for the coronavirus.

Two others at the same station are still waiting on their test results after developing symptoms consistent with the virus.

Dr. Swannie Jett, the Brookline director of Health and Human Services, assured that “anybody that’s a positive, exposed, we make sure that they’re isolated. And anyone that was exposed to that person who is positive, we quarantine them.”

Officials in Billerica said Tuesday night that a first responder in their town had also tested positive.

Town leaders said first responders are screened on each shift and must take precautions to wear personal protective gear.

Despite this, McKinnon says firefighters are at risk of being exposed to the deadly virus and is asking for more personal protective equipment to be made available to them.

According to him, the pandemic has dramatically threatened their ability to help the state at its time of greatest need.

If the firefighters are exposed without the proper protection and treatment, McKinnon says they will hamper the state’s ability to respond to the pandemic.

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