A number of Toronto fire stations were temporarily closed in recent weeks as some firefighters have tested positive or shown symptoms of COVID-19.
About eight stations have had to temporarily close to be disinfected and deep-cleaned due to concerns over the virus, Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (TPFFA) president Frank Ramagnano told Global News.
Ramagnano said nine members have tested positive for COVID-19, with seven believed to have fallen ill on the job and two while travelling. Five are awaiting test results, he said.
Each cleaning takes approximately three hours, Toronto Fire Services (TFS) division Chief Toni Vigna said by email.
“In the event that staff report feeling ill, to prevent exposure and virus spread, the hall is closed for deep cleaning and disinfection.”
TFS is working with Toronto Police Service and Toronto Paramedic Services to review the types of calls each service attends, Vigna said, an exercise supported by the union as a means to reduce unnecessary risk.
“If you’re responding to a seniors residence where the nursing staff is there, the person is already on oxygen — if they’re just looking for a transport to the hospital then there’s really no purpose for the firefighters to be there,” Ramagnano said.
Ramagnano insisted response times have not been impacted by the number of members in self-isolation. He said some staff had cancelled vacations to fill the void.
According to Vigna, the TFS “actively monitors the staffing levels throughout the day and will make adjustments to vehicle locations to ensure emergency response coverage throughout the city.”