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Rockville Centre Fire Department adapts in time of coronavirus

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The Rockville Centre Fire Department is adapting in the time of the coronavirus while still giving 100 percent to their duties, said Fire Chief Eric Burel.

The department is exercising social distancing within its buildings, as well as thorough, daily disinfectant cleansing of all buildings and vehicles. But that’s not all — as first responders who are on the frontlines of emergencies, extra precautions must be taken to ensure everyone’s health and safety during the pandemic.

“While we continue to respond as normal,” Burel said, “the times we operate in are not.”

The fire department has enacted Emergency Order 2020-1, which covers many of the de-contamination, social distancing and self protective wear that keeps members safe, Burel said.

That means all trainings and meetings have been canceled, and all information is sent electronically.

When responding to calls, there are added field interviews to determine if occupants may be infected with the coronavirus. If they are or may be, responders wear extra gear, such as N95 respirators, special protective eyewear, protective suits and gowns and EMS gloves.

“We must think of all additional safety measures and procedures with regard to the pandemic,” Burel explained. “That happens to be a lot to think about when you are moments away from a scene. This goes on normally every call we get, but now we have added the field interview of the occupant, which will help us determine the next steps.”

Burel noted that social distancing, washing hands regularly and heeding the advice of authorities are how the community will get through the crisis.

“Take a long, hard look at the people in your immediate household,” he said. “Remember grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends young and old and those who may have impaired immune systems and ask, with the limited information known about COVID-19. Is it worth the risk?”