“I think it’s creating a potentially dangerous situation for both the firefighters and the public,” said the president of Kansas City’s firefighters union about the department’s policy for the virus.
Kansas fire department is asking firefighters who have been exposed to COVID-19 but haven’t tested positive for the virus to stay on the job.
The Kansas City Fire Department policy has the firefighters union concerned for the safety of its 400 members, KMBC-TV reports. Since the pandemic started, 67 firefighters have contracted COVID-19.
“I think it’s creating a potentially dangerous situation for both the firefighters and the public,” J.J. Simma, the president for the firefighters union, told KMBC.
Under the policy, the department treats firefighters with COVID-19 the same as if they suffered an on-duty injury. Firefighters who have been exposed to the virus but haven’t tested positive or exhibited any symptoms must use their personal time off to quarantine.
Ultimately, Fire Chief Michael Callahan told KMBC that COVID has been creating staff shortages in the department. That’s why firefighters who are asymptomatic are being ordered back to work, although they must do so while wearing an N95 mask the entire time.
But Simma says he’s worried that exposed firefighters without much sick or vacation time could be put in an untenable situation.
“They may go without pay, they may be docked or they may come back to work,” he told KMBC-TV.
While Simma says these situations have already popped up, Callahan said he wasn’t aware of them happening.