Minnesota fire department won't respond to calls due to COVID-19

The pandemic has impacted staffing at some public safety departments across the state.
Author:
Publish date:

A fire department in McCleod County is suspending service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Plato Fire Department suspended operations at 8 p.m. Tuesday, meaning it won't be responding to emergency calls in the community it serves, which has about 320 people, the department said on Facebook Wednesday

The fire chief made this decision after three-quarters of the 20-person volunteer fire department tested positive or were exposed to the novel coronavirus, FOX 9 reports

This is the first time a fire department in Minnesota is out of service due to the pandemic, the news station notes. 

"This is due to a recent increase in localized COVID-19 cases," the Facebook post says. "The health and wellbeing of the community, our department members and their families is of utmost importance."

Instead of the Plato Fire Department responding to calls within its jurisdiction, it has made arrangements with the McLeod County Sherriff's Department, Allina Ambulance, Ridgeview Ambulance, Glencoe Fire Department, Lester Prairie Fire Department and Norwood Young America Fire Department "to keep our service area protected," the post notes. 

"We will be monitoring all calls and working with our dispatch center to call mutual aid assets as needed," the fire department said. 

The fire department is closely monitoring the situation and has a plan that will help it resume operations as staffing becomes available, the post adds.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Other agencies impacted

Although this appears to be the first fire department to fully suspend service due to lack of personnel, it isn't the first time a public safety agency has had to shift staffing due to the pandemic. 

Most recently, the Duluth Police Department said on Nov. 10 it is phasing in an emergency schedule between now and Nov. 19 because COVID-19 has impacted staffing at the department. 

Police Chief Mike Tusken posted to Facebook Nov. 6 to note that as of that date 29 department staff, including himself, were quarantining from exposure to the virus. However, most of them haven't tested positive – since mid-October, the department has had 14 reported positive COVID-19 cases. 

The department's emergency schedule has patrol officers working five days a week and then will have 10 days off, with the department calling this a "built-in quarantine period." Investigative staff will be on three rotating shifts and serve as back-up for patrol, while staff who can work remotely have been instructed to do so.

COVID-19 in Minnesota

All of this comes as Minnesota is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and virus-related hospitalizations. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported a record 56 deaths and 4,900 new COVID-19 cases. 

MDH also reported a total of 1,299 COVID-19 hospitalizations, which is a new record that includes 282 patients in intensive care. What's more, the number of patients hospitalized in Minnesota with COVID-19 has nearly doubled in the last 14 days.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Mpls council proposal would cut nearly $8M from 2021 police budget

The "Safety for All Budget Plan" was introduced Friday.

Shayne Munich

Minneapolis police appeal for help finding missing man

Shayne Munich is described as a vulnerable adult.

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 6.26.50 PM

Minnesota nurse's story about her battle with COVID-19 goes viral

A month later, Ashley Walter is on a hard road to recovery.

Adam Thielen

Report: Still on COVID-19 list, Thielen not expected to play Sunday

Thielen was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Monday.

Image from iOS (19)

Mask-wearing, distancing a common sight on MOA's Black Friday

Thousands of shoppers were out and about on Black Friday despite the COVID-19 situation.

Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz, MDH react to record-setting COVID-19 deaths

Minnesota can expect further bad news over the coming weeks.

covid-19, coronavirus

Record 101 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota

The figures are from Wednesday, with no update provided on Thanksgiving.

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 9.29.12 AM

Target reveals its 'Cyber Week' online deals

The sales will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5.

Related

COVID-19DriveUpTest

MN health officials will text COVID-19 positive cases, close contacts

The hope is that if they get a text first then more people will answer their phone when the health department calls.

verso Duluth Mill arial

2 companies announce mass layoffs in Minnesota due to COVID-19

Verso to layoff 225 in Duluth, MRCI has laid off 300 people since mid-March.

ella winston

Wayzata High School student critical with COVID-19

Her family is detailing her battle with coronavirus and urging people to follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

restaurant-602894_1280

58 bars, restaurants added to list of those linked to COVID-19 outbreaks

The Minnesota Department of Health has recorded 117 bars and restaurants tied to coronavirus outbreaks.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 12.20.20 PM

Grandma's Marathon 2020 canceled due to COVID-19

The popular Duluth event has been pushed back to 2021.

zoe suchta

5-month-old girl hospitalized months after getting COVID-19

"In the short 5 months Zo has been with us, she has gone through quite a lot; she is tough, strong, and beautiful."