Volunteer Firefighter International

Entire Volunteer Fire Department Closed by COVID

Two-thirds of the members came down with it despite taking the recommended precautions

By Sarah Danik, Fox 9

For the first time since the pandemic began, a Minnesota fire department is out of service because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The Plato Fire Department is being forced to enact Plan B after too many of its firefighters have gotten the virus or were exposed. Plato is located just outside of the Twin Cities metro area about 6.5 miles west of Norwood Young America.

Related: How Fire Depts Can Prepare for the Next COVID-19 Spike

“We were following the protocol distancing masks all that, it seems like a highly contagious virus and it’s going to get where it wants to go,” said Plato Mayor Tracy Montgomery.

The virus has found its way into the Plato Fire Department. As of Tuesday night, the fire chief made the decision to shut down after three-quarters of their 20-person volunteer crew have either tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19.

Related: COVID-19 Resources for Volunteer Firefighters

“We realized we had an immediate staffing issue that needed to be addressed and that’s when Chief Schlechter made the unprecedented decision to look at halting our operations,” said Jay Wood, the Plato Fire Department assistant chief of operations.

The department says they took all the precautions laid out by the state.

Read the full story here.

Image: Fox 9

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