COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (KDVR) — The South Adams Fire Department is dedicated to keeping the Commerce City community safe, but lately they’ve been doing the job understaffed.
Chief Kevin Vincel tells the Problem Solvers 16 of his 68 firefighters had to be sidelined for COVID protocols, after returning from a firefighter’s wedding in Mexico recently.
The chief says they followed protocol in isolating firefighters after one of his employees developed symptoms following their return home to Colorado. Vincel says they contract trace using an exposure tracker.
On Monday, Vincel says 10 of his employees are still on leave.
“Each and every one of those folks is very upset and they’re very, you know they didn’t intend for this to happen,” Vincel said. “The whole thing is frustrating. Is it a little frustrating that this was such a big group of people, of course, but our job at the fire department is to make sure that they’re safe and healthy to come back to work, to get the proper testing and make sure they’re cleared.”
Other crews in the department are working overtime to help cover the loss, but the chief emphasized that the dozen firefighters getting sidelined does not impact their response or staff stations.
“I’m a little disappointed, sure, you know I don’t condone that kind of activity by all means but there’s no disciplinary nor anything I can do,” Vincel said. “You can not dictate where people go on their off time.”
The chief says they have even assisted neighboring departments on calls over the past week, and have been able to cover their own community having roughly four out of five firefighters on staff, while they wait for protocols to wrap up.