Sanford Firefighters’ statement on COVID-19 outbreak at the department

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 9:00am

    The Sanford Fire Fighters Association (IAFF Local 1624) and the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine have released the statements below regarding three members of the Sanford Fire Department who have tested positive for COVID-19, which is classified as an “outbreak” by the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    So far, the majority of the department have received COVID-19 test results, but ten IAFF Local 1624 members still have not received results over 72 hours after being tested. 

    “Everyone here at the Sanford Fire Department has been united in working as fast as we can to mitigate the spread of this virus by ensuring that everyone infected has been quickly removed from service and quarantined in order to protect the health and safety of our department, our families and our community,” said Eric Beecher, President of IAFF Local 1624, in an Aug. 24 news release.

    “We were led to believe that the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was going to take our tests and get us the results as soon as possible, but unfortunately we are still waiting for the results from the testing facility of ten of our members over 72 hours after they were tested,” he said. “In the meantime, we are following CDC guidelines for critical employees by going on calls wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, gowns, eye protection and gloves whenever it is deemed appropriate as we answer calls and come into contact with the public. We urge state public health officials to act immediately to release these tests so we can do everything we can to curb the spread of this potentially life-threatening virus." 

    “The coronavirus outbreak at the Sanford Fire Department underscores how critical it is to ensure that our first responders are given top priority in receiving direct access to COVID-19 testing and that they receive their results in a timely fashion,” said Michael Crouse, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine.

    “By not immediately giving these first responders access to testing and rapid results, it adds an additional stress to our members as they are greatly concerned for the well-being of the citizens they protect as well as their coworkers and their families,” he said. “Governor Mills and her administration need to make rapid COVID-19 testing a priority when an outbreak occurs in our Fire Houses and make sure that these results are made available immediately to ensure the health and well-being of frontline workers, their families and the communities we serve.”