West Chester fire chief being treated for COVID-19, township says

West Chester fire chief being treated for COVID-19, township says
West Chester Fire Chief Rick Prinz (Source: West Chester Township Twitter account)

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - West Chester’s fire chief is being treated for COVID-19, township officials confirmed Tuesday.

West Chester Fire Chief Rick Prinz “is receiving the best available care and we are all praying for a quick recovery,” a township spokeswoman, Barb Wilson, wrote in an email response to FOX19 NOW.

When the chief began exhibiting symptoms, he quickly made notification to all of those he may have been in contact with and those individuals began taking added precautions immediately, according to Wilson.

“He was then tested for COVID-19 with a positive result. The Township’s Human Resources manager quickly made calls to all of those who had contact and steps were immediately taken to isolate those who may have come in close contact with Chief Prinz,” she wrote.

The responsibilities of the fire chief are being handled by the assistant chiefs in his absence and there is no impact to services to the community, Wilson said.

Employees who may have come in contact with Prinz have been quarantined and are working from home.

“Just like every family, business and agency in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for the West Chester Township organization and all of those who work to serve the community,” Wilson wrote.

“When in doubt, the Township has erred on the side of caution to ensure that our family of employees and those we serve are safe and potential exposure is limited. All decisions are made with safety as a first priority. Our prayers for a quick recovery go out to Rick and we look forward to seeing him back at fire headquarters as soon as he is able. We miss him! We also encourage our community to continue taking all possible precautions to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Township employees are required to notify HR if they experience a possible exposure or exhibit symptoms themselves and then stay home.

Employees who may have come in contact with an individual testing positive are to quarantine at home for 14 days, according to Wilson.

They are required to wear masks and in-person meetings are very limited and social distancing is expected.

Those testing positive at the time were on one crew/one shift and were immediately quarantined. There was no spread beyond this group and they responded to no calls during their shift.

Earlier this year, the township confirmed six members of the West Chester Fire Department had confirmed cases of COVID-19.

All of the cases were among firefighters who worked at Fire Station 74 on Beckett Road.

Those testing positive at the time were on one crew/one shift and were immediately quarantined. There was no spread beyond this group and they responded to no calls during their shift, township officials say.

The station was disinfected, and fire crews have since returned.

Township fire stations and all township facilities are sanitized daily and often-touched items are cleaned throughout the day, Wilson has said.

The cases have not impacted public safety services in West Chester, she said.

“As a township employee, I would say that we’re “hanging in there,'” she said.

"I don’t think our experiences are unique from the millions of others who are trying to carry on and be productive at this time. It is challenging and there are ups and downs for us all.

“The Township makes available to us a variety of resources for counseling if needed and encourages all employees to be safe. As an organization, we’ve been fortunate when it comes to COVID-19, but we are so very aware that families everywhere are suffering right now.”

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