Montville volunteer firefighter believes he isn’t to blame for spreading COVID to others, despite mayor’s claims


MONTVILLE, Conn. (WTNH) — Sean Hawkins, a volunteer firefighter is pushing back after Oakdale’s mayor claimed he was the one to spread COVID among the Oakdale Fire Company.

Earlier in the week, four full-time firefighters tested positive for the virus. On Friday, the crew learned that four volunteer firefighters tested negative.

On Wednesday, in a statement to News 8, Mayor Ron McDaniel indicated that he believed the volunteer had spread the virus to the other firefighters.

“This is a hard lesson, that a person volunteers with all good intentions and unknowingly passes the virus along when men and women work in close environments,” he said.

But Gary Murphy, President of the Oakdale Fire Company, said he can’t prove Hawkins was the cause of the spread.

“I can’t say that he’s the one who got anybody sick,” said Murphy. “I don’t know that.”

“It’s definitely disheartening to hear the the mayor is blaming a volunteer,” said Hawkins. “Like I said, all of us just go out and do the same job.”

Hawkins said he never had any contact with the career firefighters who tested positive and feels the mayor’s statement adds to any divide between them.

“There’s no room for that at all,” said Hawkins. “We’re all here to do the job and serve the community.”

He said the job comes with risks, especially during the pandemic.

It’s one Murphy understands. He lost his brother to COVID this week and worries about his volunteers.

“Oh, I’m sure he did get sick from a call,” said Murphy. “He’s very active.”

Murphy said he continues to encourage his volunteers to get tested for COVID 19. 

In fact, the fire company is hosting a free COVID testing site at the station on Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and it is open to the public.

He believes it will be busy because of the uptick in town which has sent schools back into remote learning. 

A relative of one of the positive full-time Montville firefighters, who is a firefighter in New London, has also tested positive for COVID. Now he and three fellow firefighters who tested negative are in quarantine as well. 

McDaniel was unavailable for comment on Friday.

In fact, the fire company is hosting a free COVID testing site at the station on Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and it is open to the public.

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