Fire Operations During COVID
Last year, the onset of COVID-19 created some new and different challenges for the Fire Department.
SBFD staff began tracking and planning for the potential arrival of what was to identified as the COVID-19 virus in the waning days of December 2019. As part of the City’s all hazards mitigation plan, Staff began ordering additional infectious disease personal protection items in early January. Late January the department began seeing patients with unusual Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) presentations. By late February the department was beginning the to implement the first set of guidance from CDC on Staff PPE. treating and transporting patients that were suspected of having this new viral threat.
Effective March 6, all personnel were screened at the beginning of each shift and were trained on appropriate donning and doffing and disposal of the Air Borne Infectious Disease (AIRD) PPE ensemble. These precautions resulted with only 4 staff being required to isolate during this first 10 months of the pandemic. No personnel were isolated because of contact with an infected patient, with whom they had come in contact. In Mid-March as our COVID persons under investigation (PUI) increased significantly, a second ambulance was fully staffed and a designated safety officer was assigned to respond to all calls for the next two and a half months. At the cost of more than $106,000 in overtime, extra decontamination equipment and very scarce PPE costs. These costs have been forwarded to FEMA, and have just been approved for reimbursement, as part of the State’s CARES program.
Through diligence, training, continuing to monitor/follow the science and directed CDC/VDOH guidance, all of the Department functions continued without interruption, for the patients and business clients we serve every day. SBFD is unique, as this was not the case with the multiple State and other municipalities’ services. This would have only been possible through the education of, and cooperation from, Contractors, Businesses, Realtors and families whose job sites and homes our firefighters had to inspect. Thank you for helping us keep the business of government open.
A snapshot of the department’s activity during this Pandemic Year..
Total emergency responses for Calendar Year 2020 = 3771
Number of calls from total responses – 1173 (30.8% ) of all responses
Total number fires - 65.
Total number of building fires - 16. Resulting in $900,000 in property loss and $319Min property saved. 3 civilians and 3 firefighters were injured.
Request for service because of Smoke/CO alarm issues -128