One might think that firefighters represent one of the few professions that are primarily unaffected by the novel coronavirus outbreak. But that’s not quite true. Thankfully — but unfortunately — there will always be fires that need putting out, virus or no. Firefighters will continue to suit up for the greater good and put themselves at risk. However, the risk is greater now that a worldwide pandemic is upon us.
Many fire departments are making changes to keep people safe.
For example, calling emergency services for an emergency that doesn’t actually involve a fire will change which first responders show up. This is thanks to CDC guidelines meant to ensure that firefighters are available during actual fire-related emergencies.
Deputy Chief Desmond Dade of the Quincy Fire Department said, “Firefighting and rescuing is a main essential service we provide for Quincy, if our guys end up being quarantined because of the exposures, we can’t provide that service to the citizens of Quincy.”
The department is also implementing procedures to catch potential cases of coronavirus even before they spread. There will now be an employee at the door ready to take each firefighter’s temperature as they enter the building for a scheduled shift. It’s not yet known whether or not these procedures will have a noticeable impact since the virus can spread even before symptoms are shown. It can also survive on surfaces for days, making transmission even more likely.
Assistant Chief James Pioch said, “As far as I know, everyone in the department is practicing social distancing. When they go home from work, they stay there unless it’s absolutely necessary. I can tell you myself, I’ve personally practiced that. Only one of us in our household, and that’s myself, goes out to get what we need. And I’ve only had to do that once so far.”
The department is also committed to limited exposure by using gloves and masks when they do interact with the public during emergency calls.
Please maintain awareness when interacting with medical staff or emergency services. Their safety should be as much the public’s concern right now as is normally the other way around. Allow at least six feet of space in between persons when possible. Cough into your arm, not your hand. Wash your hands with soap and warm water often. And please, refrain from going outside unless absolutely necessary for groceries or exercise.
These actions can help save lives!