Tulsa Fire Quarantines 10% Of Department After Exposure To COVID-19

Wednesday, July 8th 2020, 9:02 pm
By: Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

The Tulsa Fire Department said they have had to quarantine 68 firefighters and staff members who have been exposed to COVID-19.

Those 68 people with Tulsa Fire make up 10% of the entire department.

Firefighters said they are making big changes in how they do things to limit further exposure to the virus. Firefighters said they are improving cleaning measures and doing other things differently to keep themselves and the community safe.

While many of the city's fire stations are spacious, that's not the case at Fire Station 15, off Admiral and Yale.

"It's the smallest, and so it's tougher to stay apart, but we're doing what we can," Fire Equipment Operator for Engine 15, Brett Roberts, said.

Roberts said the firefighters must socially distance while at the station. It starts at their shift change, where the incoming crew is required to take their temperature and log all the information to keep track. They are also doing much more cleaning.

"Anything that gets touched, door handles and all the doors going in and out, our computers, the keyboards, the door handle to the refrigerator, things you don't normally think about," Roberts said.

Fire Chief Michael Baker said these are measures they are taking at all stations.

"Really we're a social profession, we do shift change, we live together in basically 30 neighborhood houses across the city," Baker said.

Out of the 68 department members who are quarantined now, 17 have tested positive. Baker said some of the people who've tested positive are younger, and asymptomatic.

"We have some members that showed some symptoms, no one has been hospitalized," Baker said.

Chief Baker and Roberts both said when the department is impacted, so is the community.

"Safety is the utmost important thing to us. With us being off work or quarantined, or being affected by this, that prevents us from serving the citizens," Roberts said.

The Fire Department said they've been able to backfill those 68 spots. The chief said no stations are closed and no operations are being impacted.