Fire station outbreak sparks call for frontline staff to be vaccinated

Fire engine.

Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter

Three “operational” members of staff have been confirmed with Covid-19 after an outbreak at a North Wales fire station.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (NWFRS) confirmed the first infection was discovered in Llandudno on Thursday, February 4, and a further 10 members of staff are now self-isolating.

The outbreak has prompted firefighter union representatives in the region to renew its calls for frontline staff to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.

NWFRS confirmed there had been no break in cover for the areas, with another crew, organised by the service’s operations team, deputising for the missing personnel.

Paul Jenkinson, senior operations manager for NWFRS, said it had been “working closely with the Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) team” following the first positive case – and the service was applying “strict risk control measures and arrangements” for all the organisation’s staff.

He added: “Two other members of operational staff at the station have also tested positive.

“As a result, an additional 10 members of fire and rescue service staff are currently self-isolating.

“As a service, we operate robust, tried and tested business continuity plans and continue to work in collaboration with local resilience partner organisations to ensure we work together to safeguard our staff and ensure our communities remain protected.”

Adapting

Mr Jenkinson said that, as the service becomes aware of “more transmissible strains” of the virus, it was “adapting” to ensure it continued to have the “most stringent infection prevention and control measures in place”.

A statement from North Wales Fire Brigades Union officials said: “The safety of our firefighters and the communities which they serve is our number one priority.

“The Covid breakout at Llandudno fire station demonstrates the risks frontline firefighters face on a daily basis.

“We would request that consideration for front line firefighter Covid-19 vaccinations be given urgent attention, so the protection of our local communities is not put at risk.”

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