Sooke Fire Rescue is prepared to serve and support the community amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount said business is as usual at the department, aside from some extra measures taken to protect staff and the community. New protocols include extra cleaning and disinfection measures in the station, closing the department to the public, having most staff work from home, and keeping physical distance within the office.
Mount sees this time as an opportunity for the firefighters to catch up on learning and maintenance training. He explained that the department has the tools and a curriculum set in place to hold virtual classroom learning for members. These training sessions help firefighters keep up to date with the latest COVID-19 information, and to know proper operating procedures as things change rapidly throughout region.
Mount said the department is keeping a pulse on the community to make sure they are aware of what’s happening, from talking to businesses, responding to complaints from residents, and keeping up to date with information and expectations from local governments. They will also monitor calls from the public more diligently, to gauge which calls are related to COVID-19.
The pandemic outbreak imposed on plans for the JDF Fire Rescue Cadet Camp, a week-long camp scheduled for earlier this month, which trains future heroes in all things fire rescue. The camp, which was set to be hosted at the Metchosin School, was postponed until further notice.
“It’s disappointing that the camp had to get cancelled, but I think it was the right decision,” said Mount. “We were looking forward to supporting the camp and hopefully we can make it happen again, we just don’t know when. Right now we just want to focus on keeping everyone safe and healthy.”
The SFR has been “ahead of the game” as far as precaution for the outbreak, with implementing new rules around CPR, keeping staff directed on new procedures, wearing proper gear and having lots of inventory such as masks and gloves.
“We treat every medical response call like there has been a COVID-19 exposure,” Mount said, adding the department saw a reduction in calls as most residents are in isolation, but medical calls remain steady.
Mount said the station is still receiving many calls around open burning and air quality in Sooke, likely because so many people are stuck at home.
“I want to remind people to be fire smart, and to educate themselves around having a fire-smart property.” said Mount. “Respect your neighbours, and try to postpone burning so the department can concentrate on the bigger tasks at hand.”
Sooke RCMP is also taking extra measures in response to the pandemic. This includes more sanitizing in the office and leaving greater space between desks.
“All of our members are still healthy and working here,” said Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Brett Sinden.