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Sparks Fire suspends out-of-state wildfire mutual aid after a firefighter test positive for COVID-19

Published: Sep. 25, 2020 at 9:21 AM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - Many local Fire Departments have pitched in to stop the spread of wildfires on the west coast, but one local agency won’t be sending out any crews until the pandemic is over.

The Sparks Fire Department officials say they won’t be sending any firefighters to help with wildfires outside the region as one of their firefighters tested positive for coronavirus.

Sparks Fire Division Chief Jim Kindness says the firefighter who tested positive for COVID-19 didn’t show any symptoms and recently came home from an assignment battling a wildfire in California.

Kindness says even though the firefighter who tested positive didn’t show any symptoms, three other Sparks firefighters on the same assignment had cold like symptoms.

The infected firefighter went back to work at Sparks Fire station 4, but on September 16th he was told he had tested positive for the virus. A total of eight firefighters, including the one infected, had to quarantine. Seven others tested negative for the virus.

Kindness says there are a few reasons why Sparks decided to suspend mutual aid for out-of-state wildfires

“Now we are having to quarantine our personnel when they get back,” said Kindness. “That is going to require at least two days off or sometimes four days off. We have to cover overtime and the fire is not going to pay for (that). That is all on the city and the fire department’s budget. With the COVID and budgets being slashed, we can’t afford to send our resources out.”

Kindness says station 4 was closed overnight and deep cleaned. He adds no calls were missed during the station’s closure.

Station 4 has since reopened. Also, the eight firefighters have all tested negative for the virus.

Currently, ten Sparks firefighter are on assignment out-of-state battling wildfires. Kindness says they will be allowed to finish their duties.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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