So what does a fire department do during the COVID-19 pandemic? Well, during the last 24 hours area departments responded to many emergency medical service (EMS) calls, calls for assistance with downed trees on sparking wires, activated fire alarms and smoke detectors, sounding carbon monoxide alarms, roads blocked by fallen trees, motor vehicle accidents, fires of various natures and service calls across the spectrum. The fire service is the department you call when you are sure of what you have and when you don’t know what is wrong.
Your fire service is a very different agency than even a decade ago. Most modern fire departments are what is known in the parlance of the industry, as an “all hazards” response agency. That means the department has trained and is equipped to respond to and address a multitude of emergencies. Besides the EMS responses, these may include below-grade rescues, high-angle rescues (for example removing a worker from a cell phone tower), hazardous material leaks and spills, animal rescues, ice rescues, water rescues, structural collapse and oh, yes, fires. Vehicle fires, brush fires, chemical fires, house fires and electrical fires all require specialized training and equipment. Add in terrorism responses and the fire service is nearly unrecognizable to that of 50 years ago.