Fairfax County Fire and Rescue is making major adjustments to its services as it deals with an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
“Due to an increase in the number of COVID cases among staff, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FCFRD) has implemented temporary staffing adjustments to ensure we maintain the highest level of service possible to our community while balancing personnel challenges,” the department said in a press release. “Currently, 66 employees have tested positive for COVID. An additional 12 FCFRD staff are in quarantine.”
The department says it will use “cross-staffing” to help with the worker shortage, meaning that it will receive assistance from the Hazardous Materials Unit, a Hazardous Materials Support Unit.
But the department will also have to cut some services for now. Four entities will be out of commission until further notice. Those entities are. Tower Ladder 405 (Franconia), Medic 408B (Annandale), Medic 409B (Mount Vernon), Medic 410B (Bailey’s Crossroads). The department has also requested assistance from its volunteer units.
Fire Chief John Butler addressed the situation in the release.
The recent rise in COVID cases has affected everyone including first responders. These temporary adjustments are the result of data-informed decisions made to minimize the impact of staffing changes on our communities and ensure that the men and women of FCFRD can continue providing the highest quality fire suppression and emergency medical services to the communities we serve. We must balance the ability to carry out the mission of our department with the health, safety, wellness, and morale of our responders. Our goal is to return to normal operations as quickly and safely as possible as the number of positive covid cases decline within the department. We appreciate the support and patience of our residents and visitors.
The department noted that of its more than 1,200 employees, 87 percent are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Virginia Star reached out to the county to see if the department members would quarantine for five days instead of 10, per the new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The shorter quarantine would allow the department to get back to operating at full capacity sooner.
The county’s spokesman was not available for comment.
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