BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) — A blaze at a Benicia port has grown to a four-alarm fire, officials said on Saturday.
The fire started just after noon at a dock along 1200 block of Bayshore Rd.
Most of the longshoremen working at the dock have been evacuated, officials said.
“Fire at Port of Benicia, a dock ramp is fully engulfed,” tweeted Cornell Barnard who is at the scene.
Officials say there is no shelter-in-place order but could change depending on the wind direction, but in a tweet, Benicia fire department says, “wind conditions are favorable…there continues to be no threat to the public.”
At the end of that article, I called for the City to consider and adopt a vaccination mandate for all City staff who come into contact with the public, most especially our firefighters who interact intimately at aerosol-sharing levels when responding to 911 calls.
The unnamed firefighter told the city on Wednesday that they have the coronavirus, as city officials work with the Solano County Public Health Department to determine the source of the infection, according to a city of Benicia news release.
An almost identical press statement was released by the City of Benicia two months later, on September 10, 2020. It is unclear whether this is referring belatedly to the same firefighter, or a second firefighter.
The Benicia Fire Department has had over a year living with the reality of COVID among staff. Surely the Department is well-informed as to the possibility of re-infection and the high danger of transmission by asymptomatic carriers of the delta strain of the virus.
I am personally acquainted with the incredible heroic up-close measures of these public servants in times of 911 crisis. I want them safe, and I want those they help to be safe from them.
>> If it is not already doing so, I call upon the Fire Department to at minimum test its unvaccinated staff daily, and to rigorously quarantine any who test positive.
>> If it is not already doing so, Fire Department leadership should strongly encourage all staff to get vaccinated.
>> And I call upon our City Council to act quickly to require all City staff who deal directly with the public to be vaccinated, especially those who deal with Benicia residents in emergencies.
Only 62% of Benicia firefighters have been vaccinated
The Benicia Fire Department reported on September 23, 2021 that only 23 of its 37-member staff are vaccinated.
The City of Benicia provided a Public Records email with this information in response to a request submitted by Benician Gregg Horton.
Horton wrote on September 10, “Please provide record sufficient to determine the number of Benicia Firefighters who are vaccinated for COVID-19. Please also provide any records tracking the vaccination rate of Benicia Firefighters over time.”
The City’s formal response began with three paragraphs detailing it’s legal obligation and desire to cooperate fully under California’s Public Records Act (Government Code section 6250 et seq.).
The City’s response then very briefly offered the following: “In response to your request, the Fire Dept. provided the following information: – Currently, 23 of 37, or 62%, of Fire Dept. staff are vaccinated.”
I am concerned, maybe a little alarmed, that unvaccinated first responder firefighters may be in close aerosol contact with residents in times of emergency. I am personally acquainted with and highly appreciative of the quick response our firefighters provide in a resident’s home or in public places when a 911 call goes out.
The City of Benicia ought to quickly agendize and take action to mandate that city workers who come into contact with the public are vaccinated and/or tested routinely.
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