CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – Two Cleveland firefighters are positive for COVID-19, and a handful of others are showing symptoms according to Cleveland Firefighters Union President Francis Lally.
“It’s unfortunate that we have two, but it’s really fortunate that we only have 2,” Lally said.
Fortunate, Lally says, considering his contention that the city of Cleveland has under funded the budget to replenish personal protective equipment.
The critical issue right now, Lally says, is that the Division of Fire is using 11-year-old N95 respirator masks.
Cleveland Firefighters Union President Francis Lally, “We’re using expired N95 masks.” 2 firefighters have tested positive for Covid-19.
To properly protect the wearer, N95 masks must fit extremely snug, and according to Lally, the bands securing the masks have worn out.
“I think everyone has learned lessons from the federal level on down to the local level that some resources need to be put in stockpiling this personal protective equipment,” Lally said.
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis the city of Cleveland has responded by ordering 5,000 masks, Lally said, but the problem will remain for the foreseeable future because of back-loaded orders.
The masks were ordered from 3M, but that company has not yet been able to provide a shipping date.
For now firefighters are doing what they can, themselves, to stay virus free.
“They’re being hyper-vigilant, washing hands, keeping their equipment clean,” Lally said.
In the best of times, with proper equipment, keeping 740 firefighters safe is difficult, to say the least.
“The corona virus in general is putting a lot of stress on our members, across the board.” Lally said.
19 News has reached out to the city of Cleveland, but as of this publication, had not heard a response.