The Fire Company entered unchartered waters in the month of March when the coronavirus began making an impact in Lancaster County. With no prior experience in responding to emergencies during a pandemic, the Fire Company leadership developed guidelines for keeping both community members and firefighters safe, while ensuring there would be sufficient healthy personnel available to respond to emergencies.
On March 17 the chief, deputy chief, assistant chief, president and vice president sent an email to Fire Company members announcing the response plans. First, they emphasized isolation for any member who became ill for any reason. Those individuals would be instructed not to respond or come to the station for 14 days.
Consideration was given on how to minimize exposure and contact when firefighters needed to respond to emergencies. Members were instructed to avoid standing in groups, reduce staffing on all rigs, and to maintain at least a six feet distance from others when at the station and on calls.
In order to minimize the number of firefighters responding, the chiefs assigned duty crews (only certain firefighters were listed to respond to emergencies during pre-determined time frames). Each crew consisted of a driver, officer, and two firefighters. There were four crews: A-Daytime, B-Daytime, A-Nighttime, and B-Nighttime, plus alternates for both day and night. The A crew responded to single unit dispatches and the B crew was the backup if two units were dispatched. Day duty crew hours were 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and night duty crew hours were 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. These crews were scheduled to serve on weekdays and a volunteer slate was on duty on the weekends.
Bird-in-Hand’s fire service in its first due area was handled a bit differently. If there were to be a building call in the local area for which Bird-in-Hand has primary responsibility, all available members were asked to respond.
In addition to these guidelines, the Fire Company leadership asked members not to gather at the fire station, except for essential work such as equipment maintenance. From the middle of March to the end of April, functions were canceled or held virtually using computers and phones. This included trainings, committee meetings, the March Board meeting and April General Membership meeting.
Throughout this pandemic, our community can be assured that the Fire Company has an excellent plan in place to deal with emergencies so that everyone remains safe and protected.
NOTE: As of this newsletter’s printing, some of the temporary plans mentioned above have been discontinued and the Fire Company is operating in more of a “business as usual” manner.