The majority of calls Honolulu firefighters respond to are medical ones, and many are suspected COVID-19 cases. But the head of their union said the Honolulu Fire Department is making those sickened or quarantined prove they were exposed on the job.
If they can’t, the union said, they could be denied benefits.
“Our firefighters are on their own with workers’ comp.,” Bobby Lee, Hawaii Fire Fighters Association president, told Hawaii News Now. “If they get COVID, they file a claim and they’re subject to the determination of workers’ comp whether it was job related or not.”
Determining the source of exposure can be difficult because firefighters can work coronavirus calls multiple times a week and not fall ill until days later.
“It’s next to impossible to try to prove where you got it from and firefighters don’t have the luxury of saying ‘no i don’t want to respond,‘” Lee said.
Outbreaks at fire stations around Oahu also forced many into quarantine or isolation.