QC firefighter calls for proper COVID-19 guidelines as colleagues test positive

A Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) firefighter in Quezon City is appealing to authorities to draw up proper guidelines and protocols in handling the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak among its personnel, alleging that they are still being deployed outside even if some have tested positive for the disease.

The firefighter, who is based at one of the city's fire department's sub-stations, said they lack guidelines to follow, especially on what to do when a colleague is found positive for the virus

"Sila-sila lang 'yung dumiskarte (On their own, they are taking the initiative ," he told the Manila Bulletin on Saturday (Aug. 1). 

"'Yung mga nagpapa-swab na mga bumbero, pakalat-kalat... 'Yung contact ko nga po doon sa Philippine Arena, kasi BFP nga po 'yung nagkokontrol, may ka-batchmate po ako doon, siya lang ho nagsabi sa akin na 'Magpa-swab ka na!' (The firefighters have themselves tested at different facilities... My BFP batchmate at the Philippine Arena was the only one who urged me to be tested)."

"Wala hong order sa istasyon namin na magpa-swab na kami, although meron na kaming swabbing center sa Philippine Arena (At our station, there is no order for us to be tested, although we already have a swabbing center at the Philippine Arena)," he added.

For instance, in mid-July, he said, one of his colleagues tested COVID-19 positive. But officials from the city's fire department allegedly did not ask them to undergo swab testing or quarantine despite having been in close contact with the patient. They were even deployed outside, he added.

“Hindi pinapauwi ang mga stay-in...at kahit may nag-positive na sa station, inuutusan pa rin...na mag-disinfect ng mga palengke at lumabas ang fire truck para mag Oplan Ligtas Pamayanan (Those who are staying in at our station are not allowed to go home. And even if someone at the station tests positive, we were still ordered to disinfect markets and take out fire trucks to conduct Oplan Ligtas Pamayanan),” he said.

"Wala silang matinong sistemang ginawa. Wala silang paraan para magkaroon ng maayos na palitan ng mga tao kung saka sakaling magkakasakit  (They don't have a proper system. They do not have guidelines on relieving people if some of them get sick)," he added, noting that officials were only even advising them to take Vitamin C. 

"Parang light lang 'yung treatment nila doon sa virus (It's like they're treating the virus lightly)."

The firefighter is now under home quarantine while waiting for his swab test result. Meanwhile, several fighters at their station have tested positive for COVID-19, per results released to them on July 30.

Most of those who tested positive were part of the team that conducted disinfection efforts; seminars, "where they used megaphones"; and responded to fire alarms.

The Manila Bulletin informed the BFP's public information office (PIO) about the matter to seek a comment from Quezon City Fire Department's fire marshal.

The PIO said they are still waiting for feedback, but noted that, “Mandatory po ang swab test at quarantine sa buong BFP. May alternative work arrangement scheme din po kami sa buong NCR (Swab testing and quarantine are mandatory in the entire BFP. We also have alternative work arrangement schemes in our National Capital Region offices)."