Fort Worth

Fort Worth Firefighters, Other First Responders, Hit By COVID-19 Surge

Some firefighters are working mandatory overtime to keep stations fully staffed

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With 130 firefighters home sick with COVID-19, the Fort Worth fire department is juggling to keep stations staffed and requiring some employees to work mandatory overtime.

About 10 firefighters are testing positive for the virus every day, a number that's skyrocketed in just the past few weeks, spokesman Mike Drivdahl said.

The firefighters who are being quarantined make up about 14% of the department.

But Drivdahl said services are not impacted.

"At no point has the service of 911 been delayed,” he said. “All our fire trucks are being fully staffed."

At the ambulance service Medstar, about 21 medics are out.

That's about 3% of its workforce.

"The community should not be worried,” spokesman Matt Zavansky said. “We have great folks picking up the extra shifts, working longer hours. However, long-term, this could be an issue if this surge continues."

Those who are working are busy.

Medstar is now responding to about 150 COVID calls a day.

Meanwhile, at the police department, 44 officers are home sick, adding to a shortage overall.

"Right now we're over 70 officers short,” Officer Jimmy Pollozani said. “Plus the number of officers we have out with COVID, it's a big number to have, especially for a department our size."

The department is reassigning officers from special assignments to patrol for a month at a time.

The big unknown -- when the surge will peak.

"I think we're still on the increase and I think we'll see the numbers increasing through the winter season,” Pollozani said.

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