Township firefighters battled a residential structure fire on 32nd Avenue near 204th Street on Sunday afternoon, May 10, 2020, around 5:30 p.m. (Langley Advance Times file)

Township firefighters battled a residential structure fire on 32nd Avenue near 204th Street on Sunday afternoon, May 10, 2020, around 5:30 p.m. (Langley Advance Times file)

WorkSafe BC investigating COVID outbreak at Langley Township fire department

Numbers continue to rise; union says 11 confirmed and 25 possible cases as of Wednesday

WorkSafe BC is investigating a rash of COVID-19 cases in the Langley Township fire department.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, a WorkSafe spokesperson confirmed a prevention officer was looking into the outbreak that has put roughly a third of the Township’s full-time firefighters out of action.

WorkSafe has the power to review employer COVID-19 protection plans and to impose penalties.

A report was expected sometime next week.

READ MORE: VIDEO: WorkSafe BC increases inspections by 50% as businesses reopen

Meanwhile, the firefighters union said as of Wednesday, Nov. 18, the number of cases had risen to 11 members who have tested positive, and another 25 who may have been exposed to the virus and are awaiting test results, or have been advised to self-isolate by Fraser Health.

Acting IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) local 4550 president Duncan McIntosh told the Langley Advance Times the COVID cases appear to be mostly work-related.

“The information that we have thus far indicates that the majority of positive test results have been related to a workplace exposure,” McIntosh said.

Due to the resulting staffing shortages, the majority of Township fire apparatus are being staffed with three firefighters, less than the four considered as best practice (known as the “two in, two out” standard).

Three, the union said, still meets the minimum standard, with two firefighters able to go into a fire situation while one assists from outside.

READ ALSO: ‘Heightened awareness’ has City and Township fire crews prepared to battle COVID-19

And those smaller-than-usual crews are only possible because the Township is paying firefighters overtime to work longer hours, McIntosh explained.

“The employer, in our view, is doing everything they can,” McIntosh said.

“The relationship [between the union and employer] is positive and going in the right direction,” McIntosh added.

Union secretary Jordan Sparrow described the situation as “workable.”

“This is brand new for both sides,” Sparrow observed.

Back in 2015, the township approved adding eight firefighters to Township halls so that four firefighters could, usually, attend every call depending on shortfalls created by sick leaves and vacations.

A Township online post describes the department as a combination of career and paid-call firefighters consisting of “approximately 100 full-time career staff and 100 paid-call members.” Paid-call firefighters are not used to fill in for absent full-timers.

This latest outbreak is the second reported by the Township fire department.

In early March, eight Township firefighters responded to a Langley residence for a medical call. Later, they learned the man the crew was assisting tested positive for COVID-19.

READ MORE: Eight Township firefighters exposed to COVID-19 now back at work

The firefighters were directed to self-isolate and, by the end of the month, were all permitted to return to duty.

Langley City fire department, in response to a Langley Advance Times query, reported it has had no COVID-19 cases to date.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusfirefightersLangley Township

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley and other communities should be concerned about credit union’s direction

Member read the fine print and does not like the proposed changes

Langley MLAs Andrew Mercier and Megan Dykeman. (Black Press Media files)
Langley MLAs announce multiculturalism grants intended to help fight racism

Priority was given to projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism

Jaden Lipinski has signed to the Langley-based Vancouver Giants, and is expected to start next season. (Lipinski Family/Special to Black Press Media)
Arizona forward joins Vancouver Giants ranks

A young scorer out of Scottsdale was signed to start playing in the 2021-22 season

Langley Township is planning to construct a multi-use arts and cultural centre in Fort Langley. (Langley Township graphic)
Wanna buy a piece of Langley history? Museum naming rights up for grabs

Township opens up sponsorship for new Salishan Place by the River history, arts and culture centre

Vancouver Giants goalie Trent Miner saw his lengthy shutout streak in the net come to an end in a 6-3 loss against Prince George on Saturday, April 10. (Allen Douglas/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Giants winning streak snapped by Prince George Cougars in 6-3 loss

The game also marked the end of a franchise-record shutout streak by goalie Trent Miner

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read