Missoula Fire Department fights Beckwith house fire

MISSOULA - Five Missoula firefighters are reportedly coming back with positive COVID-19 results as of Tuesday.

According to a release from the City of Missoula, the Missoula City-County Health Department conducted testing on Missoula Fire Department firefighters after a positive last week. The health department began closely working alongside the fire department to conduct testing and contact tracing.

According to the City of Missoula, Missoula Fire Department staff wear protective equipment while responding to the public. The City of Missoula says firefighters are filling in for those who are ill or quarantining and the fire department's availability remains uninfluenced. Missoula Fire Chief Jeff Brandt says he does not believe the public is at threat for exposure regarding these five new cases at the fire department.

In order to go back to work, firefighters must complete two negative tests beforehand and others are tested when their quarantine is over.

“The Missoula Fire Department would like to reiterate that we are fully committed and prepared to continue to safely provide the same level of emergency services to the community that we always have,” Brandt said in the release. “Although we are acutely aware of the unease this might cause community members, our firefighters on the front lines are properly protected to render the safest aid possible. Our entire staff is following the guidelines and parameters established by the Missoula Health Department for testing, quarantine and return-to-work protocol."

Health officials in Missoula are urging the public to avoid large gatherings and note all in-person contacts from the last two weeks as the county sees community spread.

"We are not surprised to find a couple of additional positive tests among close contacts,” Health Officer and Missoula City-County Health Department director Ellen Leahy said in a release. “That's why we quarantine and test. Aided by the Fire Department's quick and cooperative response and Community Medical Center's contribution of quick testing, additional spread is being checked as thoroughly and early as possible."

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