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A must read: COVID-19 — FDNY battalion chief’s journal

A reality check from Chief Simon Ressner in Brooklyn

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If you can, please stop what you’re doing and read this. It’s an extremely well-written account of a 24-hour shift with FDNY Battalion Chief Simon Ressner in Bedford-Stuyvesant amid COVID-19.

No glorification. No look-at-me and what I’m doing. No hidden motive. Just a straight-forward account of another shift while the people they serve are becoming ill and dying in apartments and homes all around one Brooklyn firehouse. It’s Chief Ressner’s thoughts as he does his best to use the resources at hand to respond to the coronavirus while attempting to limit — as much as practical — the risk to his firefighters and himself.

Thanks to ProPublica for asking for this and publishing Chief Ressner’s account.

Here’s an excerpt, but please take the time to read the entire article. Any description or excerpt will not do it justice.

I spend a good part of Friday morning rebalancing staffing in the fire companies in the battalion as well as the 31 Battalion in Downtown Brooklyn. Staffing has become a challenge because, as of this morning, there are 1,056 firefighters, 686 EMS workers and 115 FDNY civilians suspected of COVID-19 infection; 241 Fire personnel, 74 EMS and 23 civilians have been confirmed. Fire companies that normally have 20 people on their roster are down to 11, and so we move people from companies that have fared better to those companies that are depleted. Even now, there is still a fair amount of tangled paperwork to deal with.

After, I head down to the Chief’s Vehicle and start the next disinfecting ritual. The firefighters assure me that it has been done, but they are young and I am not. And they clearly haven’t grasped the genuine risk we are facing with each contact with each other and each response for fires and emergencies.

Read entire article

Battalion Chief Simon Ressner

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