Fire Department adjusts for COVID-19 pandemic
The Shakopee Fire Department has taken incremental steps during the current COVID-19 crisis to ensure the safety of its firefighters and the community. We are following our Pandemic Illness Standard Operating Guideline (SOG), which lays out four progressive levels of action based on confirmed cases of illness.
The first level calls for only one firefighter wearing specified personal protective equipment to make contact with the public to determine the additional resources needed before other firefighters are unnecessarily placed at risk. It also calls for certain steps to be taken for cleaning and sanitizing people, vehicles, equipment and fire stations.
The second level follows the same procedures and, in addition, calls for limited activities allowed at the fire stations. The third level postpones or cancels training and activities and the fire stations are closed to firefighters only. The fourth level (our current level) adds that the fire department will maintain staffing for 24-hour coverage with firefighters working shifts.
Typically, the fire department uses a combination model where the fire station is staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with full-time firefighters. Paid-on-call firefighters respond from wherever they’re at all other times. During a pandemic, a 24/7-shift model provides a safe alternative.
The 24-hour coverage allows for fire department administration to schedule firefighters for shifts, so we know exactly who’s working, providing for a more controlled environment. Firefighters working shifts are responsible to follow decontamination procedures prior to and at the end of shifts taking every step to limit risk. While working shifts, they are prepared and available at all times to respond to emergencies, complete training and clean and sanitize the fire department vehicles, equipment and fire stations.
These are unprecedented times causing all employers to re-evaluate the way they were conducting business and make the necessary changes to limit public exposure while still providing excellent customer service. That’s exactly what the fire department is doing to protect firefighters, their families and the public.