SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - The Springfield firefighters' union said two fire engines closed down due to COVID-19 cases among responders must "immediately" reopen for public safety.
Due to 19 confirmed virus cases reported in the Springfield Fire Department, 48 members of the Springfield fire department were placed in quarantine. The Springfield Fire Department reported Thursday 73 firefighters were in quarantine, but Springfield Firefighters Local 37 President Ryan Sabo said the others in quarantine are exposures. Not all of the quarantined firefighters were required to be isolated.
With so many firefighters out, the fire department put Engine 2 (2810 Stevenson Drive) and Engine 12 (2925 South Koke Mill) out of service. In a letter, Sabo said these engines "provide critical intermediate life support medical care, fire and vehicle accident response, as well as other hazard mitigation."
Sabo said union members have worked extra hours to make sure there is no delay in public safety. He said the removal of the two engines created a "gap in coverage" to people living in the southwest side of Springfield and the southeast side near Lake Springfield.
"We recommend that these fire engines be reopened immediately as this is a matter of public safety," Sabo said. "A reduction in emergency services is unacceptable as our community is experiencing the crippling effects of a worldwide pandemic.
"For 102 years, our members have been responding to emergencies throughout Springfield and surrounding communities. There is only one fire department in Springfield and we want to ensure that it is properly staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year."
The full letter is attached to this story.