YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Last week, 27 First News reported that three Youngstown firefighters were self-quarantining after feeling flu-like symptoms.
Youngstown fire captain Tim Frease found out he tested positive for COVID-19.
“I don’t get sick very often and this is the sickest I’ve ever been and I’ve never experienced anything quite like this,” Frease said.
Frease is a captain with the Youngstown fire department and a firefighter/EMT with the Cardinal Joint Fire District in Canfield. He stopped working when he started feeling symptoms on March 25.
“I could feel my temperature go up. I mean, it was like someone flipped a switch and said, ‘Boom, you’re sick,'” Frease said.
He was tested the next day. That’s when Canfield’s Station 2 temporarily shut down for cleaning. The station reopened two days later, but the men he came into contact with are still self-quarantining.
“I guess the concern more than anything else is personnel and having a sickness run through either one of the fire departments and basically making either department unable to respond to calls,” Frease said.
As for the Youngstown fire department, Chief Barry Finley said everyone at Station 1, where Captain Frease worked, will only be allowed at that station and no one else is allowed in.
“As the the firefighters and first responders, we are taking care of ourselves so we can take care of our community,” said Finley.
Finley said his crew members have been adamant about cleaning their living and eating spaces, but even after Captain Frease’s positive test result, his priority is still being able to do his job.
“The only way I see safety forces not getting this is if we don’t do our job and that’s not an option for us,” said Finley. “We became firefighters. We knew the risks and you know, we’re taking care of ourselves so we can take care of our family, so we can take care of the community.”
As for Captain Frease, he said he’s feeling much better, but he wants people to understand that this virus is not a joke.
“It has to be taken so seriously. Just because you can get over it doesn’t mean you won’t severely damage someone else who can’t,” Frease said. “It’s not a death sentence if you have it by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s just not something you want to play with.”
Editor’s note: The story has been corrected to clarify that Chief Finley has not tested positive for COVID-19. We regret this error.