Firefighters training

The United Phoenix Firefighters Local 493 is the local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters that represents the firefighters of Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Tempe, Surprise and Chandler. 

Last week, Local 493 posted “an important plea to our communities” on the union’s Facebook page.

“Valley fire departments are seeing a profound spike in our call volumes for COVID related calls,” the post said.

“We are passionate about serving our communities and will always be there for you and your family. We are finding however, that a majority of these responses are for mild symptoms or people who simply want to be tested. Unfortunately, there is little to nothing we can do to help in these instances.”

According to the union, “Valley firefighters are contracting COVID-19 at an alarming rate and it’s to the point where our ability to provide adequate staffing is being impacted. It is vital we do all we can to reduce our firefighters and hospital workers exposure to COVID unnecessarily.”

Local 493 urged those with “mild to moderate symptoms” to call a family physician rather than 911.

“Please help us help you by calling 911 only when someone is experiencing severe symptoms. ... For your safety and ours, we also politely ask that you please refrain from visiting a fire station in person for any reason during this time.”

Glendale and Peoria fire department representatives did not respond to requests for comment by publication deadline.