FALLBROOK – North County Fire Protection District crews will suspend all “non-essential” interaction with the public after a firefighter tested positive for COVID-19, the district announced Sunday.

“We deeply care for the safety of our community members and will still be responding to your 911 calls with the use of every precaution possible,” the district said on Twitter at 2:30 p.m.

North County Fire spokesman Capt. John Choi said effective immediately, crews will prioritize 911 calls only, and will stop all building inspections and station tours.

Choi also said firefighters will stop shopping at grocery stores and will have food delivered to them.

“We just want to make sure that we are not in any way, shape, or form, making contact with anyone in the public who might be infected and then spreading it to the community,” Choi said.

As a precaution, firefighters and paramedics will begin wearing masks on all 911 emergency calls, and dispatchers will ask questions about travel history and symptoms for all medical aid calls to determine whether a patient may be suspected of having coronavirus.

“They will be asking if you have any symptoms of a fever, headache, sore throat, cough — the basic flu-like symptoms,” Choi said.

If any of those symptoms are present, only one crew member will make contact with the patient, and will be wearing full protective gear, Choi said.

An unidentified firefighter was determined to have contracted COVID-19 on Saturday.
The firefighter was asymptomatic before developing a fever that day, Choi said late Saturday evening, and will self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

North County Fire wouldn’t disclose which station the infected firefighter worked at, but Choi said the fire district was reaching out to everyone the firefighter interacted with during the course of his shifts over the last two days.

Following that announcement, the fire district began mandating that all firefighters have their temperatures taken a minimum of two times during each shift.

“Every firefighter is having their temperature taken as they come on shift and then checked a second time,” Choi said.

No other North County firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Choi confirmed.