by Photo courtesy of the San Diego Fire Department

At least 184 San Diego firefighters and paramedics have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday night, which is a result of the highly infectious Omicron variant, according to union sources.

"We have never had so few active personnel due to an emergency," San Diego City Fire Fighters Local 145 president Jesse Conner said. 

The union reported 156 firefighters, 14 paramedics, and 14 civilians who work under contract with firefighters who are infected with the virus. All identified individuals are quarantined at home with varying degrees of symptoms.

The San Diego Fire Department has a staff of 1,256 on contract, which means approximately 15 percent of the total number of staff are infected, which continues to increase every day. 

Earlier this week, firefighters had already suspended operations of seven trucks or ground units due to the shortage of personnel. 

That was on Monday when the transmission between firefighters was less than a hundred cases. Now that infections have increased, the department decided to leave out more equipment.

Conner estimated that another five trucks and two specialized units will be suspended. Despite the lack of personnel due to the pandemic, other firefighters were going to be out of operations these days for refusing to comply with the city's COVID-19 vaccination mandate. 

According to a statement by the city's Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz, "five employees of the San Diego Fire Department received advance notice of dismissal," for not complying with the vaccine mandate.

Muñoz said that, of the five personnel, four are firefighters and one is a dispatcher. 

“All five have chosen to be vaccinated rather than dismissed. The city will support their decisions and retain these employees,"Muñoz said.

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