Benicia City Council: Please Require Our Firefighters to be Vaccinated

By Roger Straw, September 25, 2021

A Benicia firefighter tested positive for COVID last year – Fire Department staff now only 62% vaccinated

Benicia Fire Department

Yesterday, I published a recent City of Benicia disclosure that over a third of Benicia’s Fire Department staff is unvaccinated.

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.

That call is all the more important considering a Vallejo Times-Herald news report from summer of 2020.  On July 2, 2020, the Times-Herald published “Benicia firefighter tests positive for coronavirus“.

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.