Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Coronavirus Concerns Forcing Changes In Way Central, South Coast Firefighters Operate

(Photo by John Palminteri)
Firefighters in Santa Barbara County wearing protective masks

The coronavirus crisis has changed the way many schools, businesses, and government agencies on the Central and South Coasts do business. It’s especially true for fire departments, which don’t have the luxury of doing their jobs via zoom or skype.

If you need the help of firefighters, and call 9-1-1, dispatchers will ask the traditional question like the type of emergency, and your location.

But, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen says taht after units have been dispatched, the dispatchers will also ask you some additional questions, including whether anyone at the location has symptoms of coronavirus. The new questions are aimed at determining what degree of personal protective gear the responders need to be wearing.

Lorenzen says when firefighters show up, things will also be a little different. Only one firefighter will come into a home at a time, to assess the situation. Lorenzen says firefighters are also using additional protective gear.

If you go to a fire station, you will not be allowed in. You need to call 911, or knock on the door, and a firefighter will come out to help.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig says on top of all this, like everyone, firefighters have been social distancing, which as you can imagine isn’t easy when you are a firefighter on call at a fire station.

Firefighters have specialized training to deal with those who are sick, and potentially contagious, but like for all of us, they’re doing their best to deal with a situation no one could have imagined.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.