30 HFD personnel sidelined after two test positive

Dozens of Hawaii Fire Department personnel are in quarantine after an active-duty employee and a recruit tested positive for COVID-19.

Chief Darren Rosario reported Sunday that the fire department employee and the recruit, who is currently employed in another Hawaii County department, had taken part in a recent EMT, or emergency medical technician, training.

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Post-training, both were notified that of being a close contact to a person who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Rosario. The contact reportedly occurred while off-duty and both cases are unrelated.

Each was then tested and received a positive result. A total of 30 personnel from Hilo-, Puna-, and Kona-based stations were subsequently ordered quarantined due to work-related contact with the two individuals, Rosario said. An additional five department employees are being monitored by the state Department of Health due to non-work-related exposure.

All but two are asymptomatic, or not exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

Rosario said the public shouldn’t be concerned about possible exposure to the virus.

“All HFD employees wear full Personal Protective Equipment while on emergency incidents,” he said. “Our Fire Stations are closed to the public aside for the purpose of emergencies.”

Rosario further stated Sunday that there was currently no breaks in service, adding that battalion chiefs are reassigning on-duty personnel and/or recalling off-duty personnel to cover any shortages.

“The department has internal measures in place that will provide for continued service to our community. These measures include, but are not limited to, movement of on-duty personnel, recalling of off-duty personnel, the use of outside agencies to offset gaps in coverage,” he said. “The Community can rest assure that we will continue to respond to their emergencies.”

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The positive test among an active-duty employee of the fire department is the second since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In early August, a West Hawaii battalion chief tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The positive test resulted in four other personnel being quarantined until each received a negative test and were allowed to return to work.

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