ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) ─ Attleboro’s deputy fire chief is in serious condition after contracting COVID-19 as the city deals with an outbreak within the department, Mayor Paul Heroux said Wednesday.
Heroux said they began testing all of the city’s firefighters immediately after learning one tested positive last Thursday.
Thankfully, Heroux said they were able to isolate the outbreak to a single shift within the department. As of Tuesday, he said nine firefighters and two dispatchers have contracted the virus.
In response to the outbreak, Heroux said all four fire houses have been thoroughly disinfected and they’re continuing to test and re-test firefighters and other city employees. He said they’re also installing new HEPA air filtration systems to add an extra layer of protection.
“Our essential workers, firefighters, police officers, dispatchers, medics and others who don’t have the choice to work from home and socially isolate are owed a debt,” Heroux added. “They put their lives on the line every day during the darkest days of this global pandemic.”
“I thank and acknowledge the hard work and long hours put in by our firefighters as they continue to provide coverage and emergency services to our residents and business community,” he continued.
Heroux said the outbreak has not caused any disruptions in the city’s emergency services and response, and the department is still able to fully staff its shifts.
“We encourage everyone to keep our sickened members in their thoughts as we hope and pray for speedy recoveries,” Attleboro Fire Chief Scott Lachance said.
Heroux said it’s unknown at this time how the virus was brought into the department, but it’s clear that it was spread among firefighters while at they were at work.
Attleboro is now designated as a high risk city by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, due to an increase in cases, according to a Facebook post from Heroux.
“We cannot and will not and should not blame this on the firefighters who have recently tested positive,” Heroux said in the post.