August 13, 2020

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Firefighters alleged to have broken social-distancing rules; WFPS investigating

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>A firetruck outside Station 1 firehall in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is currently investigating a report that members of the service hosted colleagues from other stations to Station 1 over the weekend, and in doing so, failed to follow social-distancing policies. </p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

A firetruck outside Station 1 firehall in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is currently investigating a report that members of the service hosted colleagues from other stations to Station 1 over the weekend, and in doing so, failed to follow social-distancing policies.

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The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is investigating allegations a group of firefighters violated COVID-19 restrictions when they got together from other fire halls to celebrate the retirement of a firefighter.

WFPS spokeswoman Kristin Cuma said the service takes these allegations seriously.

"The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has strong policies aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 amongst both responders and our patients," Cuma said Monday in an emailed statement. "It also recommends members maintain appropriate social distancing where possible, while on scenes and in stations.

"The WFPS is currently investigating a report indicating members of the service hosted colleagues from other stations to Station 1 over the weekend, and in doing so, failed to follow social-distancing policies. The allegations suggest members attended the station to pay respects to a retiring firefighter on his last shift.

"The health and safety of all service members and the public is the top priority of WFPS. The WFPS takes these allegations seriously and if proven, appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken."

Across North America, fire departments and firefighters have imposed restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

In both Canada and the United States, fire halls have been closed temporarily after firefighters tested positive for the virus, and in the U.S. several firefighters have died from the virus.

Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, said he couldn't comment fully on the matter because the union had just learned about the incident.

"We are investigating it ourselves," Forrest said, adding he didn't go to the function in person, but still was able to send his congratulations.

"I sent a video message to the firefighter congratulating him on his retirement."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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