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C.O. crews prepare for wildfire season amid COVID 19 challenges

Officials work to ensure firefighter safety; some will house in hotels

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Wildfire season is fast approaching, and now the crews that respond to fires will have to follow new social distancing protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As temperatures rise in Central Oregon, fire officials and responders are figuring out how to effectively do their jobs during this global pandemic.

PatRick Corp.  in Redmond, a private firefighting contractor, is providing crews with more equipment and disinfectant tools when out in the field. Firefighters also have been provided with more vehicles, as they're only permitting four people per vehicle.

In addition to the addition of routine temperature checks, the crews are sent out with more supply kits and extra meals, while training classes have been cut from 20 participants to now only eight to 10 per session.

The president of PatRick, Rick Dice, said they've been following state guidelines and that the crews are ready to go.

"The ones that are needed to get our crews out and ready to go are slowly coming back and doing their part," Dice said. "It's been trying, you might say, but we are getting through it, as we all will."

Dice said if responders don't feel comfortable, they have the choice whether to go fight a fire or not. He said it'll also depend on the team and location of  a fire whether or not hotels will be used, rather than staying at the traditional fire camps, which have also undergone physical distancing and other adjustments.

Bend / Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Environment / Fire / Fire Alert / Redmond / Top Stories / Wildlife
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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

Comments

4 Comments

  1. Wildfire crews go through extensive cardio and physical fitness tests before being hired- they “are not” considered part of the “at risk” population.

    So what inspired this short story- when the big fish remains out there- with more than 5,000 negative tests for the Wuhan Virus- we all want to know- what illness is out there pretending to be the Wuhan. The deception is so good that it has fooled medical professionals into giving out more than 5,000 tests that were deemed negative- so what was this mystery illness !

    Why does KTVZ continue to ignore this important story ? Just go out to St Charles tomorrow and ask the doctors what’s happening.

    I’ll let you in on a little secret- I’ve been part of the front-line teams training for and testing for signs of this virus for over a month now. And even I recognize the differences between seasonal allergies- bronchitis- and sinus infections when I see them… and rest assured- there is no “MD” behind BGHW !

    Some of you sit at home and play medical professionals- you play at being a lawyer- while the rest of us actually get out and live life ! Stop being afraid- yer all going broke so Kate Brown can save face !

    1. No you are wrong! I fought fires in college and all I had to do was walk a mile with my gear in under 20 minutes. Not exactly extensive cardio as you suggest.

  2. Actually they don’t. They walk 1 mile with a weight vest on in under a certain amount of time. Some jobs require a 2 mile time and some a 3 mile time, but that’s it

  3. The reality of the situation is that these young folks are among the most physically fit people in the general population. If anyone should be able to go out and back to work these are those who have chosen to do this job. Go for it lose the fear, stay safe.

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