I want to post an open letter from the Saint Cloud, Florida firefighters’ union. The way that rescue professionals are being treated in this pandemic is a shame.
On behalf of St. Cloud Professional firefighters Local 4153 we would like to thank all the citizens of Osceola County and especially the residents of St. Cloud for supporting your fire and Police department during this current, stressful and challenging time. We all also want to thank everyone who is trying to do their part in keeping exposures to a minimum as this helps us get through this in a timely manner.
We are also writing this post to inform you of some challenges that we are facing in the midst of this pandemic.
As firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers we accept the hazards that come with our job and understand and accept the fact that we chose to enter a career which will inevitably put us in harms way in order to help those whom we have taken an oath to serve. But recently, one of our own firefighters became ill while performing his duties serving the citizens, was sent home as per our infectious control protocols and as such cannot return to work until he’s given a clean bill of health.
As of this moment our firefighter is being forced to use his own sick time, not covered by the city meanwhile the current policy states that if we become sick we must have no symptoms before returning to duty. He has also been unsuccessful in attempting to get tested for COVID19 as these procedures are being rolled out in real time.
Currently, the city manager has sent all administrative, non essential personnel, home on paid administrative leave. But it is our position that if we become ill or exposed during the performance of our duties we should be covered under paid administrative leave and/or workman’s comp which, of this posting, the city’s position is that becoming sick on duty, during a pandemic, is not covered under workman’s comp.
In conclusion, we reiterate that we understand and accept our roles and responsibilities as first responders, and stand in solidarity with residents of our great cities and county as we navigate these stormy pandemic waters. As prudent and conscientious citizens, understanding our choice of career, we would not expect the city to cover us if we become sick off duty. We are only asking that the city do what is right as we continue to protect and serve the community.
St. Cloud Professional Firefighters
The city’s bureaucrats are at home with full pay whether sick or not, but the responders who are forced to treat the sick and wind up catching the disease are not permitted to work and must use their own sick leave. Disgusting.