Thirty fire departments in the Los Angeles region this week are conducting a “COVID-19 Safety Stand Down” educational operation to remind its personnel of the importance of following safety protocols and procedures during the pandemic.
The operation began on Monday and will continue through Friday, said Torrance Fire Department Assistant Chief Carl Besanceney.
“Due to the recent increase in infection rates among Los Angeles region fire department personnel, the 30 fire chiefs, represented by the Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association, agreed to participate in a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down,” Besanceney said in a statement.
This Stand Down will not impact fire department services, Besanceney said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be a challenge of historic proportions and has already taken a significant toll on our communities,” Besanceney said. “Firefighters and emergency medical services — EMS — personnel have not been immune to the impact of COVID-19.”
Thousands of firefighters and EMS personnel across the country have contracted COVID-19 and dozens have died, Besanceney said.
“Although some progress is being made, the spread of COVID-19 appears to be picking up speed, including the spread among our region’s fire and EMS personnel,” Besanceney said. “It is for this reason that the region’s fire chiefs have agreed to conduct a COVID-19 Safety Stand Down.”
The objective of the Stand Down is to emphasize the severe risks that COVID-19 represents to public safety personnel and the communities, and to “strongly emphasize the vital importance of the proper use of personal protective equipment, hand-washing, and physical distancing,” Besanceney said.
“It is also important that our team members set an example and conduct themselves in a manner that will protect our communities,” Besanceney said.
As a part of this Safety Stand Down, all Los Angeles area fire department personnel are requested to participate in the following activities this week:
— View the COVID Safety Stand Down video, which can be accessed at https://vimeo.com/438791580/03eb14f2eb; and
— View training documents and discuss the COVID-19 Safety Stand Down Checklist, which can be accessed at laafca.org/COVID19SAFETYStandDown/
Also, the following guidelines were circulated as a “COVID-19 Safety Stand-Down Checklist” for the region’s fire and EMS personnel:
— Now more than ever is the time to stay vigilant. Do not let your guard down. COVID-19 personal protective equipment may be around for an extended amount of time and is a part of our safety equipment. We all have a responsibility not to spread the virus to others, including co-workers and community members.
— Lead by example. We owe this to our communities. Wear a face mask. Practice good hygiene. Maintain social distancing.
— Comply with health directives, especially in the fire station. Stay tuned to changing protocols. Include COVID-19 updates in fire station lineups and regular training.
— Assume that anyone of us could be contagious at any moment. Take the precautions so that if we find out that we have COVID-19, we would not have spread it to our co-workers. Report all exposures. Report any symptoms. Isolate yourself following an exposure or if you are experiencing symptoms.
— Take care of your mental and physical health. Exercise regularly. Maintain a good diet. Get sufficient rest. When stressed, do not hesitate to talk to someone.
“It is the sincere hope of Los Angeles Area Fire Chiefs Association that we contribute to flattening the curve among our first responders and beyond and continue to serve our communities in this time of need,” Besanceney said.
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