Houston firefighters’ union push for designated quarantine facility for law enforcement

2 Houston firefighters tested for coronavirus while 6 others quarantined

HOUSTON – Possibly exposed Houston firefighters were scrambling to find a safe place to quarantine before the city stepped in, according to the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Two firefighters have been tested for coronavirus after they were possibly exposed while responding to a medical call. Six others are under quarantine. Another 290 firefighters are asymptomatic, and officials monitor them while they remain on duty.

Four of eight firefighters, who were possibly exposed to the coronavirus while responding to a medical call, are quarantined in city-paid hotel rooms Sunday. They were not allowed to isolate themselves at home without endangering others while the others are at home, per the CDC guidelines.

Marty Lancton, the president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, said the union paid for a night before the city began footing the bill.

"We have been warning that we have got to do something for our men and women, who are out there in the front lines," Lancton said. "What we have asked for the city for weeks now, is to have a dedicated isolated facility for first responders that are told to quarantine and cannot quarantine at home.'

A quarantine site for Houston firefighters or police officers does not exist.

"The city has been instructed to secure a long term facility for people in general who cannot meet the CDC's guidelines for quarantining at home," Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña said. "That is actively being worked. It should be in a place within a week."

Peña said the public could help keep firefighters safe by informing emergency response operators if someone in the home is experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as coughing or fever.

“Let the 9-1-1 know so we can better inform our firefighters and our first responders so we can be better prepared,” he said.