UPDATE 9:24 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 - Action News Now spoke to Chico Fire Chief Steve Standridge who says they already were down seven people due to recent retirements and being on long-term leave due to injury, then now there are seven firefighters who are out because of Covid-19.
Chief Standridge says there are also 21 firefighters in quarantine. He added that some have already tested negative, but the department is waiting for results on others.
Standridge says out of precaution they are keeping them all away from the station.
The ones who tested negative, since they're essential workers, can still go out on calls, said Chief Standridge, but they have to wear tons of protective clothing such as gloves, masks, shields, glasses, and disposable coveralls.
"We mandated wearing masks again in the stations and maintaining six-foot distancing as best as possible, predicated on the fact that we have firefighters who work and live at our stations for 48 hours at a time," said Standridge.
The City of Chico is not the only department in Butte County dealing with positive COVID cases. The CAL FIRE Butte Unit also has about a half dozen firefighters who are out because of Covid-19.
Action News Now spoke to Rick Carhart, the public information for the CAL FIRE Butte Unit, who said that he does not have any information at all about the condition of any firefighter who is out.
Carhart says CAL FIRE is taking the necessary precautions to make sure people stay safe as well.
"Anytime there is interaction with the public the firefighters are getting out of the engine putting masks on and gowns on," said Carhart. "These are things that are ingrained into the habits of them anyway," he added.
Carhart says they also clean the station and their gear after calls and after shifts.
UPDATE 10:31 a.m., Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 - Chico City Manager Mark Orme has confirmed to Action News Now that one more firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19. Making the total number of firefighters infected with the disease to seven.
Orme also added that 21 other firefighters are either isolating or quarantined because of the outbreak.
We will update this article with a complete story.
CHICO, Calif. - The coronavirus has hit the Chico Fire Department with six firefighters testing positive.
City Manager Mark Orme says the city's human resources team is working closely with the fire department and public health to ensure the safety of employees and the community.
A contingency plan was already in place and Orme says the fire department is fully operational.
Orme says even if matters became worse, the city would call upon the California Mutual Aid System to keep staffing levels where they need to be to provide fire protection.
Prior to this outbreak, the City of Chico had seen only four positive cases among all 400 or more employees.