Changes made for safe response

Gale Rose
New protocols for the COVID-19 virus have been put in place to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus for members of the Pratt City Fire Department.

Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer the fire department has made adjustments to keep everyone as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kramer said the firefighters are continuing their once a week training sessions. But instead of everyone being in the same area, firefighters are breaking up into smaller groups and working in different locations. Groups of four or five have been training on the various pieces of equipment. Some are training on the ladder truck, some on the pumper trucks while other groups are doing ground work training.

“We’re trying to keep in small groups and separated from each other,” Kramer said. “It has been interesting.”

Fire fighting equipment has to be ready to go at a moments notice. All regular maintenance is being carried out to keep the equipment up and ready to respond.

The fire department response to calls has also changed. Firefighters responded to the faulty alarm call on March 26 as a non emergency. The number of firefighters that actually entered the house was limited. The firefighters try to screen the residents and keep them separated from the firefighters.

“On non-emergency calls, we limit the number who gain access,” Kramer said.

Firefighters do have protective equipment available to them the has been deemed appropriate for the COVID-19 virus. They have rubber gloves like EMS wears and N-95 masks and full body suits of Tyvek in stock if they are needed. Each county emergency department has their own supply of these items plus there is a central stock source that is available for all departments through emergency management.

The fire department is working with emergency management and the county health department to keep up with the latest on the virus and how they should respond, Kramer said.