The Fire Station, The Station Articles

Fire Stations and COVID-19

By Chris Mc Loone

I have often said that health and safety start at the firehouse. How we behave there, how the firehouse is laid out, how we keep the house (do we treat it like our own home?), and what safety factors are in place like diesel exhaust systems directly impact our health and safety.

Dealing with COVID-19 has caused us to close our stations to the public. But, we are still responding to calls that involve citizens suffering with COVID-19. I spoke with an EMS chief who said he had multiple personnel infected with COVID-19. Of the personnel, only one person had caught it from the outside. The rest caught it from each other. We work within close proximity, whether it is at the station between runs or on the rigs when responding. Hygiene is critical as well as proper PPE. Of course, we know this.

However, what about back at the station. What can we do to protect ourselves and our fellow firefighters and EMTs? Around the country, different departments have come up with different ways to sanitize vehicles, but there has also been guidance for stations.

Fire departments across the country have taken different steps to control COVID-ID spread. Some have opened satellite stations, others have moved to structures not in use because of the stay-at-home orders across the country, and others have worked with community businesses to decontaminate and sanitize their stations. There are myriad ways.

The Fire Department Safety Officers Association has also distributed guidance (linked below) for fire departments to use to maintain the health and safety of their firefighters at the station during the pandemic.

The other important aspect of what has occurred during this pandemic is our shutting our doors. Fire stations are so often community centers, with firefighters sitting outside with the doors open, giving tours when they can, talking to local residents, etc. It’s a whole different world having to shut our doors. But, there are options. One thing that has come from the pandemic for just about everyone is our use of digital options. And, fire stations are no different. Take a look at what’s around you for digital options. Can you use online meeting platforms to engage with your community? Can you use 3D technology to provide virtual tours?

COVID-19 has definitely caused us to change how we look at our stations. While we have considered firefighter health and safety in the design of stations and how they are equipped, COVID-19 has caused us to take a closer look at our behavior at the station when it comes to our safety, and the safety of our brother and sister firefighters. Take a look at some of our curated content specifically related to stations below.