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‘Bored’ Orlando firefighter broke quarantine after getting positive COVID-19 test

Despite his positive test, the firefighter went out on his boat with friends and to a party, the agency said.

ORLANDO — A Seminole County firefighter broke his mandated, paid quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 this summer when he went out on his boat with friends and to a party, according to Seminole County Fire Department records.

Firefighter Joseph Piambino was suspended for three days without pay last month after SCFD leaders determined he had ignored directives to quarantine for 14 days after he had symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, according to records from his administrative investigation, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel in a public records request.

“You were placed on disaster leave with pay for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis with directions from (Assistant Chief Sam) Thurmond to quarantine and isolate,” the agency’s disciplinary decision said. “... By your own admission you left isolation June 30 while still on disaster leave with pay, because you were ‘bored.’”

Piambino tested positive for COVID-19 June 20, after three days of symptoms, the investigation said. His colleagues who had been in close contact with him were also told to isolate for at least 10 days after exposure, through none later reported symptoms.

Piambino continued to report symptoms for the next few days, but soon felt better, the investigation said. SCFD officials scheduled him for a COVID-19 test 10 days after his first positive test, and then a second one the following day.

But before he received the results from those tests, on June 30, 10 days after his initial positive test, Piambino went out on a boat with friends and then to a house party, according to the investigation.

Multiple SCFD colleagues reported Piambino’s quarantine-breaking activities because he posted two videos on his Instagram story, one showing four friends with him on the boat, and other showing what looked like people with him in a bar, captioned, “the new Orlando speakeasy.”

The next day, after the videos were reported, an SCFD official called Piambino, who said he “heard that it may have not been a good idea,” the investigation said. He said that “he had been feeling fine for the last five-six days and was ‘going crazy’ sitting on the couch.”

At that point, SCFD “reiterated the need to remain isolated for the remainder of his 14-day period.”

Later, in an administrative interview, Piambino admitted that he went on the boat and attended a private gathering at a friend’s residence, and had recorded the two videos on his Instagram account, the records said.

SCFD investigators in determining that Piambino broke agency rules cited Seminole County’s Pandemic Policy, which states that “any employee that ... knowingly fails to adhere to the self-isolation/quarantine requirements may be terminated.”

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