The necessary precautions for the protection of our members while maintaining response are in place with planning well underway for the many variations or changes that may result with the every-changing landscape of COVID-19.
We commend Locals and Regions proactively setting up crew “bubbles” to limit the firefighters each firefighter has contact with including other career crews and volunteer firefighters. For many measures have been in place for weeks including only performing overtime on their station, strict non-contact shift change-over procedures, undertaking all station-based work and duties for volunteer firefighters so volunteers only turn out for emergencies and do not come onto station otherwise.
We are relying on firefighters’ having a good understanding of their risks, and mitigating those risks with correctly donning and doffing appropriate PPE, intensive hygiene protocols and station/gear cleaning regimes. Attached are donning and doffing procedures as a reminder.
The integrity of these crew “bubbles” will ensure if firefighters are exposed to possible COVID-19 cases or confirmed cases that we can limit those that will need to take action to prevent any further exposure to crews and families. It is important that your Local and crews have an understanding of your “personal bubbles" outside of career firefighting and what impact that might have for those you work and live with.
We know our members and their families are concerned and the knowledge of strict protocols and limited contact within contained bubbles is necessary for many.
All career and volunteer firefighters should also be clear about the reach of their personal “bubbles”.
- For career firefighters who volunteer with FENZ or any other emergency service we request you notify your Local and discuss the extent of that volunteering including who/how many you come into contact with as a result. Does it impact your career crew bubble? Should you limit your bubble to your career bubble and not volunteer for the duration of COVID-19? What does that mean for your volunteer response area?
- For those that have other emergency workers or essential services in their home “bubble” we request you also notify and discuss with your Local representatives. What protections and hygiene/cleaning protocols do you have in place at home? Are you self-isolating from this person? What protections/protocols does your family member’s workplace have?
Some Locals have already requested career firefighters to cease volunteering in order to limit the impact of their personal bubbles on their work crews and therefore potentially the capacity of that crew. The NZPFU recommends career firefighters cease all volunteering external to FENZ and only volunteer for a FENZ brigade where it is essential for the maintenance of the protection of the community. That should be determined in discussion with your Local.
The NZPFU respectfully requests volunteer brigades that co-locate with career firefighters to notify the NZPFU Local or relevant crew and let them know if any of the above situations apply to their personal bubble. Knowledge and communication is key in managing risks. With the limited contact now between crews the extended personal bubble may not be an immediate issue. It is best that everyone understands the circumstances so the appropriate decisions can be made.
Remember we can manage risk respectfully. We can limit contact. In doing so we can reduce stress and allay fears while continuing to protect the community.