OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Fire Department has enacted its emergency staffing plan after 10 firefighters tested positive for COVID-19 and 55 firefighters are currently quarantined.
The department says it devised an emergency staffing plan to address staffing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The primary goals of the plan are to ensure staffing levels are appropriate in a way that results in minimal disruption of emergency service delivery while also minimizing the spread of the virus among personnel within the department.
The plan consists of three tiered stages, or levels, with specific trigger points which define each level. Specific actions have been established for each level as a temporary staffing solution.
This stage is triggered by acknowledgment that a large-scale emergency or disaster exists. During this phase, fire officials monitor the situation and prepare to take further action.
This level is triggered by 18 personnel on any one shift or 36 personnel among all three shifts in operations being placed in isolation or quarantine. It is also triggered by two personnel on any shift or five personnel in the Operations Division who are currently positive for COVID-19. Departmental actions during a Level Yellow activation are to refrain from utilizing citywide staffing to approved leave requests. Firefighters will not be sent from one station to another fire station in order for personnel to utilize their accrued leave time.
A “Level Red” activation occurs when 25 or more personnel from any shift or 50 firefighters among all three shifts in Fire Operations are placed in isolation or quarantine. Additional Level Red triggers are five or more personnel from any single shift or 10 personnel from all of Fire Operations being COVID positive. A Level Red activation needs a more aggressive approach to protect firefighters from further exposure.
Some of those actions include:
- Leave requests (accrued time off) will not be approved in advance during a Level Red activation
- Temporary personnel transfers may be necessary to enhance staffing. An example would be where a fire station has a firefighter who is on long-term injury leave. Another firefighter could be temporarily assigned to that fire station to help maintain minimum staffing.
- Staffing is handled at the station level each day. Personal leave (accrued time off) may be cancelled to maintain necessary staffing levels.
- If off-duty personnel are “called back” to work to maintain minimum staffing, only firefighters from that same fire station will be utilized.
- As a last resort, apparatus may be placed out of service as deemed necessary by the Fire Chief or his designee.
The Oklahoma City Fire Department is currently operating in the Level Red phase. Fire officials say the numbers are fluid, but 55 firefighters are currently quarantined, and 10 firefighters are positive for COVID-19.