More Than 30 Tulsa Firefighters Quarantined After Possible COVID-19 Exposure

Jun 25, 2020

A Tulsa fire station was briefly closed this week for cleaning and many of its firefighters placed under quarantine after a member of the Tulsa Fire Department assigned to that station exhibited symptoms of COVID-19.

TFD Chief Michael Baker told reporters at a Wednesday press conference that Fire Station 24 at 3600 N. Peoria was shut down for cleaning and disinfecting overnight from Tuesday into Wednesday, but had since reopened.

Baker said the firefighter suspected of having contracted the novel coronavirus "exposed the firefighters at that station over a period beginning Saturday the 20th."

"We have begun the testing process this morning of approximately 36 firefighters who are on a quarantine until we get test results back," Baker said. He said that there was no reduction or interruption in emergency service or response because TFD was abundantly staffed and able to provide coverage for the area around the station.

Baker said the firefighter was suspected of having contracted the virus at a wedding, not while on duty. 

"We are not immune from this increases in cases within the city and county," Baker said.

Later at the press conference, asked about the potential to require masks for municipal employees, Mayor G.T. Bynum suggested he would be in favor of such a policy.

"That is something, actually, that I need to talk with our staff at the city about, as far as an overall policy," Bynum said. "You heard today just one example of the impact it can have on our organization and the ability of the city to serve, in a moment where you had one firefighter who went to a family event, came to the station, and ended up spreading it. And having to overnight shut down a fire station."

"Our ability to serve and protect the citizens of Tulsa is reliant on keeping our first responders healthy, the folks that are out working on our water lines and sewer lines and in our parks healthy," Bynum said. "So I think that would absolutely be a good policy for us to put in place at the city."

"I know that at City Hall, no one is allowed to walk even down a hallway without a mask on, so that should certainly apply to folks that are out in the field, as well," the mayor said.

A mayoral spokesperson said on Wednesday that there is a mandatory mask policy for non-sworn employees, but not for sworn employees such as police officers and firefighters.