'At no time was the north end of town unprotected'
Fire Station 5 is still manned and “fully operational” after multiple staff members tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, Laurel Fire Chief Leo Brown said.
That night, the station was shut down and disinfected. No fires or emergency situations arose during that time, Brown said. The station was opened back up at 6 a.m. Monday.
“We immediately went to protocol. When a station goes down, the two other stations (in that area) respond,” Brown said. “We sent the guys home who tested positive, and we notified Station 1 and Station 2 that they would cover that territory.”
Protocols for similar situations were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic — if the power goes out, for instance, other fire stations are prepared to pick up the slack.
“This is nothing new. We’re trained to handle these situations, adverse situations,” Brown said. “At no time was the north end of town unprotected. I stay on the north end of town, so it was protected like any other part of the city. … You never know when a station might have to get shut down and be disinfected.”
Brown said he couldn’t comment on how many staffers tested positive. There are two shifts in a day for each fire station — staff on only one shift were sent home to recover. Identifiable symptoms for COVID-19 are ever-changing, and fire crews are regularly screened for the virus. “But a lot of times, guys don’t have symptoms,” Brown said. Each shift has five crew members.
“Everything worked like a charm. I’m proud of the guys who stepped up, and everything is back up to full function and operational,” Brown said. “That protocol isn’t used that often, but that’s why it’s there.”