Chief Pena and Acevedo ensure first responders will continue service during COVID-19

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The City of Houston says increasing numbers of first responders sidelined in quarantine are an "increasing concern." The Houston Fire Department says if numbers grow it could lead to service reductions, but went on to say there is no need for that at this point.

Friday morning, there were at least 70 Houston firefighters sitting in quarantine. Additionally, the Houston Police Department has more than 200 people in quarantine and one officer is in the hospital.

In efforts to hold that number from growing, HFD will begin requiring firefighters to wear a mask anytime they are within 6 feet of any patient.

Police officers may begin similar practices soon.

"We can't afford to lose officers," HPD Chief Art Acevedo told ABC13.

HFD Chief Sam Pena echoed saying, "The more people who are exposed, the more people that we have to take out of the game."

Both chiefs are united, pleading with residents to not let future exposures occur.

"Let us know if there's anybody in the home that may be suffering from or displaying symptoms of coronavirus, whether it's a cough fever, shortness of breath, or any flu like symptoms. That helps us better prepare."

Houston 911 call takers are asking questions about symptoms. The chiefs beg you to be honest. The promise they make in return is to be there for Houstonians.

"The one thing I guarantee the people of Houston," Acevedo exclaimed, "The police department will come, but with a little information, we can keep our first responders safe."

"I want to be crystal clear about this," Pena assured, "There should be no fear our firefighters are going to have a slow response (if you have any symptoms.)"

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