State maps out COVID-19 status at Minnesota fire departments

Minnesota authorities unveiled a statewide map to monitor COVID-19 levels at fire departments in order to better track the need for mutual aid as the virus spreads.

This comes after the Plato Fire Department went out of service this week due to three-quarters of its volunteer crew testing positive or being exposed to the coronavirus. So far, Plato is the only fire department statewide to put service on hold due to COVID-19. The map, however, shows there's been "significant impact" of positive COVID-19 cases in the Bloomington and Hutchinson fire departments.

The "Fire Department Mutual Aid Status Map", created by the Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division (DPS-SFMD), gives each fire department a different color depending on its status. Green is available or COVID-free, yellow is available with some COVID-positive impacts, red denotes significant impact from COVID and black means out of service.

The Department of Public Safety State Fire Marshal Division released a map to monitor the COVID-19 status at each fire department. (Department of Public Safety)

“COVID-19 is a serious illness that can affect anyone, including firefighters,” State Fire Marshal Jim Smith said in a statement. “We are working with fire service leaders to make sure they have what they need to continue doing what they do best: keeping their communities safe.”

Departments can turn to local mutual aid partners if they are in need of help to provide emergency services. If additional help is needed the DPS-SFMD would use the Intrastate Mutual Aid Plan. The plan has been used twice this year to combat the Northern Metal Recycling fire in Becker and to assist the St. Paul Fire Department amid the riots following George Floyd's death.