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3 Cranston firefighters test positive for COVID-19, 30 in quarantine

Target 12

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Three Cranston firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 and 30 others are now in quarantine due to their contact with the infected individuals.

Cranston Fire Chief Stephen MacIntosh said firefighters were recently tested as part of the R.I. Department of Health (RIDOH) protocol to check all first responders, but he said none of the three who tested positive displayed any symptoms before or after the results.

“They all asked, ‘How can it be?'” MacIntosh said. “They didn’t even have a sniffle.”

Two of the positives came back on Saturday and the third, this morning, MacIntosh said. The results prompted contact tracing within the department.

“We had to go to the last station they worked before the test,” MacIntosh said. “We had to go back a couple of shifts and put all those guys on quarantine.”

The 30 in quarantine, and three confirmed cases add up to about 15 percent of the department of just under 200. The city has six fire stations and is required to have 41 firefighters on duty at all times.

MacIntosh said at this point the department roster is large enough to cover the 33 open shifts with overtime to meet minimum manning requirements.

The individuals in quarantine will be allowed to return to duty if their respective COVID-19 tests come back negative, according to MacIntosh.

More positive tests would result in additional contact tracing and more firefighters in quarantine.

“More test results are several days out, so we’re in a holding pattern right now,” MacIntosh said. “We’re still waiting for results for several firefighters.”

Cranstron Firefighters’ Union President Scott Robinson said the members of three platoons have been test so far, with the fourth scheduled for Wednesday.

According to Robinson, some of the quarantined firefighters will be tested in the near future due to the timing of when they came into contact with the three who tested positive.

“It’s scarey that you can’t tell you have the virus in some cases,” Robinson said. ” Our guys and gals have done a great job of cleaning the stations, wearing masks, practicing social distancing. But we still anticipated some positives would pop up when we started mass testing.”

Mayor Allan Fung, who’s wife Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung tested positive for COVID-19 last month, credited ramped up testing with uncovering the positive cases.

“We joined with the Chief’s Association and other municipalities to insist that our first responders be tested during this pandemic since they are on the front lines serving us daily,” Fung said in an emailed statement. “The city and our fire department strives to ensure a safe work environment for its employees.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

Tim White contributed to this report.

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