Concerns about fire service coverage emerge following vaccine deadline | Local News


PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) – The Portland Firefighters Association expresses concerns over 14 unvaccinated Portland airport firefighters and rescuers who are unable to work, and the impact this will have on response times .

It comes as the Oregon Fire Department faced the vaccine mandate deadline on Monday.

“What I told people quite frankly is that they need to be aware that the port is understaffed in their fire department and if they have a medical emergency we are really asking the general public especially to doctors and nurses, ”said the president of the Portland Firefighters Association. Alan Ferschweiler said. “We hate asking you to do this, but we want you to be proactive. If you see someone in the terminal having an emergency or whatever you think it is, don’t wait because it could take 10, 12 minutes for a city crew to come and help people. “

WARRENTON, Ore. (KPTV) – Monday marks the deadline for thousands of people to get vaccinated in Oregon under Governor Kate Brown’s executive order.

The union represents both Portland Fire and Rescue and Portland Airport Fire and Rescue.

Ferschweiler said normally the small port department would have around 10 employees working each day. With 14 firefighters, he says that brings him down to about six or seven.

“They won’t do the emergency medical response; they won’t do it if you have a car fire in the port parking lot or a car wreck in front of the terminal,” Ferschweiler said. “Now you’re going to have to wait all this time for the city engine crews and the truck companies to come and provide service. “

He says the port’s 14 firefighters are not eligible to work because they were going through the exemption process, but he says they were denied exemptions. Ferschweiler hopes the port will change its decision.

Kama Simonds of the Port of Portland issued this statement in response to these concerns:

Portland Airport Fire & Rescue’s primary responsibility is to respond to airfield incidents. The aerodrome and the safety of travelers will not be affected by the absence of 14 unvaccinated firefighters. The airport will not lose service or compromise response time at PDX aerodrome. The City of Portland Fire has emergency response jurisdiction for the airport terminal, Cascade station, and properties surrounding the airport. Airport Fire provides an initial response to the PDX and provides mutual aid to areas surrounding the airport. Having 14 firefighters who cannot work until they have been vaccinated impacts Port Fire’s ability to offer a mutual aid response to outside agencies, including fire responses. , EMS and water rescue.

The union said that out of 700 firefighters within Portland Fire and Rescue, five to ten are in the process of getting vaccinated right now. The rest of those 700 are compliant and are either vaccinated or exempt. The status of a person is not clear.

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