Kirkland Fire Station 21 is officially back in service, City Council announced.
The station was put back into service after receiving an eight-hour professional deep cleaning on March 13, according to a city press release.
Though none of the firefighters who were quarantined at Station 21 received a positive result for the COVID-19 virus, every surface of the 8,000 square-foot building was cleaned by specially trained crews, the release states. This cleaning was done as a precaution for the safety of the firefighters. The station has been fully staffed as of the evening of March 13 with its typical three-person crew.
“We are thrilled to be able to put the Forbes Creek fire station back into service. Reopening Fire Station 21 for fire and emergency medical calls is an important return to normalcy for our crews and our residents,” a council statement in the release reads. “We want to share this key milestone with our community, which has been so supportive of our first responders during these challenging times. We are so grateful for the selfless dedication of those firefighters who have been in quarantine and those who have continued to respond to calls without hesitation during this COVID-19 incident. We know that federal and state officials are saying that our response to this incident will last for weeks, even months. During this time, we are all being asked to make sacrifices. We thank everyone for their willingness to do what is needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and to protect are most vulnerable populations.”
Council is also strongly advocating at the county, state and federal levels to make COVID-19 testing available for all first responders and all community members as soon as possible, as well as for more personal protection equipment (PPE) for Kirkland first responders from the national strategic stockpiles, according to the release. Council is working directly with Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rep. Suzan DelBene and Gov. Jay Inslee’s office to improve testing access, secure PPE and help allocate federal and state COVID-19 response funding directly to cities.
The Kirkland fire and police departments remain fully staffed and responding to calls as normal. City first responders have Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended PPE and are following recommended protocols, according to the release.
As of March 13, the city of Kirkland still has 12 firefighters currently in home quarantine. Thirty firefighters have now been released after completing their recommended quarantine period. The city has a different facility in Kirkland available for quarantine if the situation changes in the future, the release states.
All first responders who are currently symptomatic are in the process of being tested.
“We’ve had 23 tests come back negative, and one positive test for COVID-19,” the release states. “Firefighters that tested negative as well as firefighters that were exposed to COVID-19 but never demonstrated symptoms all remained in quarantine for the entire 14-day period recommended by Public Health — Seattle & King County.”
Testing criteria for firefighters is established by the CDC. In King County, testing is managed by Public Health — Seattle & King County, according to the release. At this time the CDC is recommending that clinicians use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. More information on testing requirements is available on the CDC website.
While the city appreciates the outpouring of support and concern from the community for its first responders, the city cannot accept donations at this time, the release states.
The city will continue to update its website with information on the COVID-19 outbreak.