How first responders are staying safe amid COVID-19 pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The ways first responders protect themselves during the pandemic is crucial to their ability to serve the community.

Trained to come face to face with intense flames and smoke, Fresno firefighters are well aware of the hazards of the job.

But the onset of COVID-19 brought a new set of challenges.

"None of us have ever been in this situation before so everyone's doing the best they can to move forward and keep in good spirits," says Captain Justin Moore of Fresno Fire.

The majority of their calls to service are medical aid.

If possible, patients are asked to meet them outside of the home

"We're used to everyone getting in there when we can, but now we're sending one person in when needed," says Fresno fire engineer Alex Lencioni.

This ensures an entire crew isn't forced to quarantine.

As for fire calls...

"After we're done actively working inside the fire, we have to get out rehydrated and cooled down and rehab ourselves before we can get to work. Now we have to do that in spacious areas where we can spread out shade structures," says Captain Moore.

Firefighters work 48-hour shifts.

That can easily extend to two weeks away from family if exposed to the novel coronavirus.

"We have a spare bedroom that I will isolate myself to," says Lencioni.

Says Fresno firefighter Conor Manning: "I would be sleeping in the garage."

For Manning, wearing the proper PPE and not touching his face is to make sure he can come home to his wife Tina and their two boys.

"I think about that every time I get on the engine, and I go to a call," says Manning.

"48 hours is a long time for two little boys that want you to be home all the time that would be heartbreaking for sure."

The Fresno Fire chief's foundation provided kits for their families with PPE and information on how to stay safe at home.

Chief Kerri Donis added a personal touch to those kits.

"It was great for her to send that letter out to let the spouses know we're looking out as best we can. We're doing all the precautions we can and also we want you to know what we're doing and we'll protect you too," says Fresno fire engineer Brandon Griffith.
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