Virus outbreak at Wake Forest fire station up to five firefighters
Posted October 6, 2020 1:03 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2020 8:23 a.m. EDT
Wake Forest, N.C. — Five Wake Forest firefighters have tested positive for coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.
Fire Station No. 2, on Ligon Mill Road, was closed Saturday after the first firefighter tested positive, officials said. But the station has reopened after the building and all ladders, vehicles and equipment inside were professionally cleaned and sanitized.
All five firefighters are in isolation and being monitored by health officials. All other firefighters across all three shifts at Station No. 2 are being tested for the virus, officials said.
"We are continuing to closely monitor conditions and perform contact tracing, so our situation remains fluid," Fire Chief Ron Early said in a statement. "We are in close contact with the Wake County Health Department to ensure we are doing all we can to implement control measures to prevent the spread of the virus."
The fire department has enough people to staff all shifts at all of its stations to respond to emergencies across Wake Forest, officials said.
A number of area fire departments have been touched by coronavirus.
Clayton has had 17 firefighters infected altogether, but none since mid-August. A 20-year veteran of the department, Jason Dean, and another firefighter's spouse died after contracting the virus. All of the other firefighters have recovered, aside from one still in rehab.
The Raleigh Fire Department has had 10 to 15 firefighters test positive, but city officials said all cases occurred outside the firehouses. Three of the department's 29 stations were closed for several hours to be disinfected, officials said.
Ten Fayetteville firefighters and one civilian staffer have been infected, but again, they all were attributed to outside sources. The Durham Fire Department declined to provide details on any infections.
The chief at the Northwest Harnett Volunteer Fire Department also is recovering from COVID-19.
All of the fire departments contacted said they routinely disinfect firehouses, trucks and equipment, and they have provided firefighters with more protective gear. Access to the firehouses has been restricted, and the health of each firefighter is checked at the start of every shift, the departments said.