COVID-19: Quebec firefighters denounce trips between barracks
Firefighters are asking Quebec to imitate cities like Montreal and Gatineau and to stop the movement of firefighters from one barracks to another to limit the risk of contamination by coronavirus.
The anxiety seems to have escalated among the 400 firefighters in Quebec City. Some have written to the media denouncing the fact that the employer always fills in for replacement due to illness or a vacancy in a fire station by using firefighters attached to other fire stations.
“Quebec City firefighters feel in danger,” wrote a firefighter, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. A contaminated and symptomless firefighter could easily contaminate more than 16 firefighters per barracks without forgetting the family of the other firefighters. ”
The firefighter says that it is not uncommon for a firefighter, especially a temporary one, to replace four barracks in a single week.
The firefighter noted that the management of the Fire Protection Service had taken measures to protect several people by stopping the trainings, placing the trainers in telework and asking the chiefs to make the communications by telephone or Face Time.
“But for firefighters on the front line, it does not matter,” laments the firefighter, in an interview with the Sun.
Service management could choose to keep the firefighters in their barracks and call on firefighters from another platoon to provide replacements, suggests the firefighter. Firefighters on leave would be paid overtime.
The Association of Professional Firefighters of Quebec is well aware of the concerns of its members. To be in constant contact with the management of the fire protection service, the president of the union Éric Gosselin affirms that the operation “in silos” by barracks, on 24-hour shifts, is not excluded. “But it’s not a perfect measure,” says Gosselin. What did the guy do in his three days off? ”
The union said it asked the employer to make efforts to have temporary firefighters spend the entire week in the same barracks.
The union insists with its members on strict hygiene measures.
The barracks must be 100% sanitized before each shift, says Éric Gosselin. Firefighters are invited to wear their breathing apparatus when they work near the public. “It’s the best protection, better than a mask,” says Gosselin.
The management of the Québec fire protection service was asked for an interview request.