Outdoor workers cope with unhealthy Valley air

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Jimmy Navarro loves the adrenaline rush of working at the top of a tall palm, but these days he's also feeling a different sensation due to the smoky skies.

He says, "I'm getting tired a lot faster in the tree, so I'm pretty sure it's from the air."

Navarro owns Big Valley Commercial/Residential, which provides lawn maintenance, tree pruning, painting, and concrete work and says he hasn't slowed down despite the unhealthy conditions.

"All my work is outdoors, and there's nothing I can do indoors right now, so I've got to make money. So no matter what the condition is, I've got to stay working," says Navarro.

Employees at Peters Nursery in Madera County have also continued to work outside, watering, weeding, and helping customers pick the perfect plants from this expansive 8-acre property.

But owner Kurt Peters says safety is always the top priority.

He explains, "It's hard on staff. Mainly we don't want to get sick, and business does drop off. So we kind of restructure and ask people if you'd like to go home you have that option. Or you can stay on if you feel good because there's still work out here."

Action News also spotted construction workers on rooftops and laying pavement around the same time Skyview 30 captured a thick gray layer covering Madera.

The High Speed Rail Authority says its crews are also still busy building, but contractors monitor conditions through Airnow.gov and start issuing N95 masks for voluntary use when the Air Quality Index reaches 150.

High Speed Rail Information Officer Toni Tinoco adds, "If conditions were to worsen and get to 500 or more, we would either make the N95 mask mandatory in order to work out in the field, or we would stop altogether."

Employers we spoke with say they are also continuing to follow heat safety protocols, including access to water and more frequent breaks. Kurt Peters says he also provides popsicles.
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