Superior Fire Department Combatting COVID With Enhanced Procedures

Firefighters spend 24-hour shifts together and over the course, they wear masks, social distance, and sleep in bunks that are decontaminated after the last person slept there.

SUPERIOR, Wis. – Since the start of the pandemic, the Superior Fire Department has tallied three firefighters testing positive for COVID-19 and none have experienced significant health issues as a result.

Chief Scott Gordon says those cases were contained and not spread to other members of the department.

“We now know we cannot keep COVID-19 out of our department now we come at it from a different way how can we keep COVID-19 from shutting down our department,” says Gordon.

Firefighters spend 24-hour shifts together and over the course, they wear masks, social distance, and sleep in bunks that are decontaminated after the last person slept there.

Chief Gordon preaches treating everyone as if they are COVID positive.

He also attributes increased testing to helping to prevent a COVID outbreak.

“The sooner we can get people tested if there is a positive we find out quickly that way a person has less time that they can interact with other members of the department and I think that’s why so far we’ve been able to keep the exposure to each other limited so when we do have a positive it doesn’t take out a whole station,” says Gordon.

The department has updated procedures to limit exposure.

Superior Fire needs at least 9 members on call at all times to be able to respond properly to emergencies and in a worst-case scenario, there are mutual aid agreements to help them out.

However, Chief Gordon says they haven’t come close to such drastic contingency plans so far.

“Whenever anybody has any question on how they handle a potential positive that’s easy family member friend coworker we have a tree for that now that person contacts whoever is here, whether it’s me or one of the battalion chiefs, and we take care of it immediately,” says Gordon.

As for the firefighters’ mental health during these difficult times they have several resources available to make sure they are doing alright and able to deal with the extra stressors.

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