Williamsport firefighters implement changes after contracting COVID-19

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Six members of the Williamsport Fire Department have recently tested positive for COVID-19.

All members of the department were tested last week after one person developed symptoms and tested positive.

Williamsport firefighters interact with the public all day, every day. When one member of the team tested positive for COVID-19, health officials immediately advised all members of the fire department get tested.

Announced on Monday, six tests came back positive for COVID-19, while 27 tests came back negative. All of those positive cases developed mild symptoms.

Chief Mark Killian, of Williamsport Bureau of Fire, says, “They were all either off of work already or immediately relieved of duty once the tests returned.”

Chief Killian also says they have been aggressive with personal protective equipment (PPE) since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Between fire, police and ems we’re on the front lines every day we’re going to these incidents so we want to make sure we protect our personnel,” Chief Killian said.

The Williamsport Bureau of Fire treats all calls like possible COVID-19 calls, but it is more helpful to them when the public makes them aware.

“Our communications center will advise us of a potential airborne issue and if that potential exists we just increase our level of PPE,” said Chief Killian.

That includes: eye protection, N-95 masks, face shields, gloves and even gowns.

The fire department has made small changes to their day-to-day operations since several members tested positive.

The only time members in the building do not have to wear PPE is when they are sleeping. They are also requiring masks to be worn in the cab of the firetruck.

Now, the department is hopeful for their members’ safe and healthy return to work.

Chief Killian tells Eyewitness News, “They’ve all significantly improved and are feeling better.”

The first member of the department who tested positive will be cleared to return Wednesday, August 12th.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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