New Procedures Will Protect Firefighters From Virus As They Protect Residents
Members of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department will modify their response plans and procedures to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The most important thing residents should know is that if you call 9-1-1, we’re going to respond with the same efficiency we always have,” said Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas. “Depending on the type of alarm, you may see our firefighters take a few extra precautions as we work to avoid being exposed to the virus while providing service.”
Dumas said residents will see firefighters and fire apparatus arrive quickly at their home or business. But for many calls, a single firefighter, often an officer, will come to the door and ask about the health of those in the home. If anyone in the home has a fever, flu-like symptoms or has traveled to certain areas, that firefighter will take an extra minute to take precautions, such as putting on an air mask. He or she will then attempt to resolve the problem without having other firefighters enter the building. “Obviously, those other firefighters will help if needed,” said Dumas. “And if we see an immediate life hazard, such as fire, we’re ready to go right into action as usual.”
Firefighters also have been issued instructions for additional cleaning of fire stations, equipment including their protective clothing, and apparatus. “We are in touch with local, state and federal experts on a daily – in fact, hourly – basis, and we are following their advice,” said Dumas.
The chief also asked residents not to hesitate to call 9-1-1 if they need help, but also to let the call-taker know if anyone in the home is under mandatory or self-imposed quarantine due to possible or confirmed COVID-19 exposure. The dispatcher can then relay that information to first-responders so they can take steps to avoid exposure.
He also suggested placing a sign or note on the front door of your home to notify police, fire and EMS personnel to take infection-prevention precautions. “These steps will protect our crews so they can continue to meet the emergency needs of our community,” said Dumas. “You’re not only helping our crews by complying with these requests, you’re helping your neighbor because we’ll be able to stay healthy and respond to the next call for help.”
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection to residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services.