NORFOLK, Va. - Firefighters everywhere are bracing for a busy holiday weekend.
News 3 met with Norfolk Fire-Rescue to see how they are handling safety concerns during the pandemic.
Covered from head to toe with gloves and protective equipment, firefighters showed News 3 how they sanitized their trucks if there has been any possible COVID-19 exposure while out on calls.
They said the ambulance is disinfected along with all the equipment.
The 911 dispatchers will ask patients about symptoms.
Norfolk Battalion Chief and Public Information Officer Damon Langley said, “We take those necessary precautions right from the beginning. When we get there to do the evaluation, we a lot of times bring the patient outside in the open air, which is completely different from what we normally do.”
Norfolk fire officials said as of July 2, there have been 29 employees that have missed at least one shift because of a possible COVID-19 exposure, but so far, nobody has tested positive in the department.
Langley said the department took action immediately when the coronavirus started to surface. He attributes the precautions as a reason for zero cases in the department.
Langley said continuing to go to calls and dealing with the impact of the pandemic has been difficult.
Langley said taking action early helped them get through the pandemic compared to other departments across the country that have had dozens of firefighters test positive in their departments.
He said when COVID-19 first hit, call volume was down, but in the last few weeks calls for service are going back up.
“I think people are getting a little more comfortable. Some of the restrictions have been lifted, and people are able to go out and do more,” said Langley.
He said they have spent an additional $83,000 on COVID-19-related PPE, cleaning products and sanitizing materials.
Uniforms are cleaned after each shift at the station, and extra cleaning is constant.
“Our model for service delivery hasn’t changed a bit,” said Langley. “We’re going be there for you to provide the service. Just help us by making sure you’re taking the necessary precautions while you’re out enjoying the weather time with your family.”