HFD temporarily closes Kalihi Uka station after firefighters test positive for COVID-19

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 4:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Fire Department temporarily closed the Kalihi Uka fire station on Tuesday after a second firefighter tested positive for coronavirus, a spokesperson for the department said.

The fire station was first put on notice last week after a male firefighter who works at the station tested positive for COVID-19.

A spokesperson said the firefighter was in self-quarantine, and Fire Capt. Jeff Roache said that the firefighter had been on personal leave when he contracted the virus ― and that “no other personnel have been exposed."

But a second firefighter who works out of the station was confirmed positive this week, and the department was forced to temporarily close the station for cleaning and disinfecting.

The president of the Hawaii Firefighters Association said the department should have sent all firefighters who work at the station home to quarantine and have off-duty firefighters come in to work after the first case was confirmed.

“This is the first station that this happened to. We got 42 other stations. So it’s got to get way better than this going forward because we can’t afford to be shutting down stations when things like this happen,” said Bobby Lee.

The station was to reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Fire department officials say overnight emergency calls will hand covered by the other two fire stations in Kalihi.

All personnel from the fire station have been directed to stay home and self-monitor until advised otherwise.

Lee said they won’t be tested until they show symptoms.

“Our firefighters are of course, they’re very apprehensive because they’re not being tested. So it’s kind of hard just to sit around and wait for symptoms to come up, especially when you’ve been in an environment that had people who were positive," Lee said.

Lee said the second firefighter who tested positive worked a different shift than the first.

Meantime, the Honolulu Police Department is also working to better socially distance its officers after two of their own tested positive this week.

“People ask, ‘Well, do you have a plan in place in case officers start getting sick?’ We do, from making changes internally to changing officer’s work schedules and work times,” said HPD Chief Susan Ballard.

Ballard said there are two other officers whose results are still pending.

This story will be updated.

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