COVID-19 has brought new challenges and many questions for those of us in the fire service. In the wake of a pandemic, firefighter tools and responsibilities have evolved, and demands are high. Recognizing these new pressures, private businesses, government agencies, and fire leaders are stepping in to offer firefighters the support that they need to succeed and be safe.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways these groups are helping mitigate the load COVID-19 places on frontline workers and how our own fire departments can take advantage of these efforts.
The majority of the fire service across the U.S. relies on local, state, and federal government funds in some way to provide everything from personal protective equipment (PPE) to firefighter training.
With COVID-19’s economic impact, our community faces the potential of budgetary shortages which could result in training and equipment cutbacks and even job cuts. Fortunately, many government leaders have proposed plans to mitigate these effects and provide additional support for the fire community and our families.
For example, in the state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the families of frontline workers will be entitled to government-backed death benefits if their loved one is killed by COVID-19 while in the line of duty. Under his plan, that money would come from local and state pension funds.
At the federal level, many different proposals offering support to firefighters have been made including the HEROES Act. The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion legislation aimed at COVID-19 relief. There are many benefits for firefighters included in the bill:
In addition to efforts from government entities, public and private businesses have also stepped up to support firefighters on the frontlines of the pandemic. These steps include product launches of new technology and equipment, monetary and in-kind contributions, discounts on essential products and services, and firefighter online training to help personnel safely meet continuing education requirements.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs has also taken steps to support community members by starting both an economic and coronavirus task force.
The economic task force has two main goals:
The economic task force will work alongside the coronavirus task force, which works to inform fire departments on best practices for protecting firefighters while continuing to serve and respond to emergencies.
As we unite with the efforts of others managing COVID-19 on the frontlines, we can ensure that we can perform critical firefighting duties while keeping our team members safe. We can also ensure protection for our family members and security to navigate the challenges of the future.