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21 Detroit firefighters, medical techs quarantined

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — While the number of Detroit cops under quarantine is in the hundreds, only 21 of their counterparts in the Fire Department have been ordered to stay home because of the COVID-19 virus.

"We've had zero positive tests," Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said. "We have tests pending, and things are rapidly changing, but so far nobody has tested positive."

Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones

Jones said 21 firefighters and emergency medical technicians are "off work in some form of quarantine, isolation or home medical monitoring, and we have 50 or so who are at work under medical monitoring.

"The reason our numbers are so low is, daily our men and women deal with airborne and blood-borne pathogens, so we already have all the personal protection equipment," Jones said.

Two Detroit police employees, a captain and a civilian dispatcher, died this week of COVID-19 virus-related illnesses. As Tuesday, more than 250 officers were quarantined, Detroit police chief James Craig said during a press conference.

Jones said polices have been implemented to prevent similar numbers in the fire department.

"We have a very robust medical program, where the firefighters and EMTs are taking temperatures on duty, and we have an internal team monitoring the temperatures to see if we can recognize a pattern," Jones said.

"If there's someone at a location who shows symptoms of COVID-19, our men and women know to don their personal protection equipment before approaching," Jones said. "Also, if someone is showing symptoms, they'll announce it on the air, so the arriving crew will don their protective gear as well."

Deputy fire commissioner David Fornell said the department has its hands full delivering supplies to all city facilities in an effort to slow the virus' spread.

"We're managing all the supplies for the city, like masks, disinfectants, tissues, hand sanitizer," he said. "Last night, the police department decided they needed thermometers, so we got those out to every precinct house. Today, we'll be delivering hand sanitizer to all the firehouses in the city.

"At this particular point, we're bumping right along," Fornell said. "Keep your fingers crossed."

Jones said his employees are doing "a marvelous job."

"There's been no depletion in our deployment, all the ambulances and (fire trucks) are running fine," he said. "The men and women of this department are really standing up, and I'm so thankful for them."

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN