Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the response of the Weslaco Fire Department.
WESLACO, Texas — Weslaco Firefighters Association is asking for an improved response to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of firefighters.
According to the release, Weslaco firefighters have not been provided with adequate safety measures to protect themselves, such as proper personal protection equipment (PPE).
“Without better coordination and cooperation, the health and safety of Weslaco citizens and firefighters will be put at risk. This is life and death. We urge the fire chief to work with us, not against us. Our requests for better COVID-19 protocols are intended to keep our fire department strong and the citizens safe. This is not a time for political retaliation or attacking the messenger. Our focus must be on ensuring public safety and making the most of the resources we have in Weslaco,” said John Peña, president of the Weslaco Firefighters Association in the release.
In addition, the release mentions other places in the united states have put firefighters on administrative leave while they wait for results and have provided shelter to avoid putting families at risk.
According to the release, at least three firefighters have been ordered to use personal or sick time during quarantine.
The Weslaco Fire Department has responded to the Weslaco Fire fighter’s union. In a release, Weslaco Fire Chief Antonio Lopez said his department is monitoring the spread of the virus and working to keep staff safe.
Lopez said his department remains prepared for the pandemic and adds that the department has access to personal protective equipment and has received specialized training in handling this type of crisis.
Read the Weslaco Fire Department’s full response to the firefighter’s association: