By Laura French
WASHINGTON — An IAFF official has said that the number of U.S. firefighters quarantined for COVID-19 is at least 5,000, and about 700 firefighters have tested positive nationwide.
In an interview with The Hill's "Rising," Jim Brinkley, assistant to the general president for technical assistance and information resources at IAFF, said only about 500 departments are reporting their numbers to the union, meaning the actual counts are likely much higher.
Brinkley said the lack of sufficient PPE for first responders has been a major factor in the impact of the virus on the fire service.
"I just don't understand how the richest, most powerful nation in the world is letting our first responders down," Brinkley said.
The IAFC has also been tracking the impact of COVID-19 on public safety personnel by surveying fire chiefs and departments. The IAFC COVID-19 Fire & EMS Personnel Impact Dashboard, which has compiled reports from more than 3,300 agencies, showed 6,224 first responders in quarantine and 541 diagnoses as of Tuesday afternoon. According to the dashboard, more than 13,000 fire and EMS responders have been exposed to the disease.