A growing coronavirus outbreak at San Francisco fire stations across the city is forcing crews to work mandatory overtime in order to cover all the shifts.
The outbreak is concerning for many people, but Firefighters Union Local 798 said they will continue to keep the city safe.
More than 40 firefighters have either tested positive for COVID-19, or have had to quarantine due to exposure.
Then, the chief announced she tested positive and a number of positive cases have swelled.
“About 90 to 100,” said Danny Garcia of the San Francisco Fire Department. “It’s fluid because some people are going off, some people are coming back, and so on.”
NBC Bay Area learned that in the days before testing positive, Chief Jeanine Nicholson had visited fire stations during Christmas week, as is customary to boost morale. She later tested positive.
There is no proof that the two events are connected, but the outbreak means more work for firefighters who test negative.
“It means people get mandatory overtime and have to stay at work longer to fill the spots vacated by those that are testing positive,” said Garcia.
The firefighters union says it worries about fatigue. But vows crews remain ready to protect the city.
“The city and county will continue to serve the people to the best of our ability as always,” said Garcia. “We make it work. That’s what public safety is all about.”
But some San franciscans are concerned.
“Oh yeah. I worry, yeah,” said Sylvia Hernandez of San Francisco. “Especially for the children and the senior people.”
NBC Bay Area reached out to the fire chief and the city’s human resources department, but have not heard back.
The fire union says crews wear protective equipment during most calls, and they try to keep fire stations sanitized.
As they now try to fight the pandemic within their ranks.