“In March we kind of panicked — we couldn’t get wipes, sprayers, bleach, etc. We borrowed a sprayer from the school system because they were closed,” Fire Chief Michael Lavoie of Worcester admitted, noting the sprayer was used for 10 stations and 21 fire apparatus.
But because the fire department is used to having to clean fire equipment, Deputy Chief Martin Dyer said that helped everyone get through until they got additional equipment.
“The fire service is used to cleaning — whenever we get back to the station after a call, we have to deep clean so that helped cover the gap when the virus first hit,” he said.
It was around May when the fire department received one sprayer for each of its 10 stations and the firefighters spray the interior of each apparatus every day. They also wear face coverings.
Dyer said used PPE is left at the scene, and if firefighters are unable to do so for some reason, they have an exterior compartment for storage until such items can be discarded.
The sprayer and cleaning solution are used citywide for all vehicles — police officers spray their vehicles between each shift and the department of public works also has sprayers. The city’s ambulance service is contracted out. Lavoie said everyone’s attention level has risen as far as wearing PPE.
When asked if the department will continue the practice of spraying post-COVID, Lavoie replied it probably would as several people have noticed colds and flu illness are way down among personnel and any COVID transmission has been through family and friend connections.
A COVID outbreak among their mechanics showed vulnerability the department hadn’t considered. Lavoie said all their mechanics were lost for five days, and it was just lucky there were no breakdowns.
“Four to five years ago, we upgraded our fleet and that helped us get through; if we were running an old fleet, we would have had to call in outside help,” Lavoie said.
Having the entire mechanic team out was a “wake-up call for continuation of operations,” according to Dyer.
Lavoie said there’s a mobile vehicle emergency repair the city has since contacted in the event something like this should happen again. All fire personnel have also been vaccinated.
Continue on Page 3…