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Will Your Fire Department be Full Strength with Pandemic?

It is that time of year again when wildfires will break out in states like California and other areas of the country. Firefighters are usually in full swing with preparations at this time of year. But, this year, that preparation has slowed to a crawl due to the Coronavirus.

Since the stay at home order is in place due to the pandemic, the firefighters and people who live in fire-prone areas like California or the state of Washington are in even more danger this year.

Firefighters across the country are out sick or quarantined due to the Covid19 virus leaving departments understaffed.

Firefighters that are not ill worry about becoming ill when entering cramped fire camps. At the camps, they are unable to observe social distancing, good cleaning practices when it comes to their gear, and the sanitary conditions of the field.

Tim Edwards, president of CAL FIRE Local 2881, said, “There is a lot of anxiety when we have personnel falling ill we may not have enough people to respond appropriately to fires. Then the fires could become bigger and even more destructive”.

In San Jose, they have 14 firefighters that tested positive for Covid19, and a little more than 10% of the department was under quarantine in the past couple weeks. Thirty firefighters were recently quarantined in Kirkland, Washington as well.

It is going to get worse as the fire season will soon begin. Without enough firefighters in the departments to battle wildfires, thousands and thousands of acres will burn, and many people will need evacuating who are under stay at home orders.

Unfortunately, there is little that fire department leaders can do when it comes to these threats of short staff and the camps with the pandemic this year. Rotating firefighters out is impossible when there are not enough to do the job, and hiring is down. In truth, getting food and other necessities to campgrounds are on the minds of many chiefs; as many of the stores in the state are closed right now to slow down, to stop the spread of the virus.

The fire department chiefs said that they could only do so much with what they have. This year they will have to make hard choices that they have not had to make before.

This past winter was mild without much snow; therefore, there is not much snowcap to melt to provide water for firefighting in rural areas where the wildfires usually start. How can this problem be solved? Using fire protection tanks can help firefighters have water to battle the fire.

Water storage tanks help save property and lives. The National Fire Protection Association states the price of fires in the US annually is $250 billion. They say a third of that is attributable to damage to equipment and buildings. Fire protection water storage tanks help to mitigate those damages by supplying water to sprinklers and firefighters.

Commercial and residential buildings can use these tanks. They can be above ground or below ground and have connections for local fire departments to hook up to them. These types of water storage tanks can also help provide water in rural areas that do not have fire hydrants.

Above ground steel fire protection water storage tanks come in almost any capacity desired. They are completed of corrugated steel with a plastic liner. They have a long lifespan making them extremely durable.

Underground tanks are out of sight, most often made of fiberglass, and most fire departments say they are ok.

An engineer must design a fire protection water storage tank, so they are big enough to supply a reasonable water flow rate during a fire. That rate, generally, is 20psi. The engineer will take into consideration the size of the property, the number of buildings, and equipment that needs protection before providing a capacity size that is correct for the buyer.

Because these need an engineer to determine what the capacity size should be they can also be used for fire protection water storage tanks by private citizens. Generally, they are set up for sprinkler systems in the buildings. This can help reduce the number of damages to private property.

These storage tanks are a part of firefighting and should be considered before fire season begins, especially this year, with the Covid19 pandemic with firefighters missing work due to illness. With water to fight the fire, they can keep the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.

If you are a private citizen and wish to have your community, install a fire protection water storage tank, talk to your neighbors, and bring information to your next city council meeting. It may help protect homes and businesses during wildfires.

All fire protection water storage tanks must fulfill the criteria of the NFPA. Some of the rules are:

  • When the tank is operated in combination with a Fire Line Underground, a Fire Pump, or a Fire Suppression System.
  • Tanks that hold more than 5,000 gallons must be placed on a concrete foundation

One other thing that you need to be aware of when it comes to fire protection water storage tanks, you will need a permit to install one. The container must have an approved connection for your fire department on it as well.

Keeping our firefighters healthy during this pandemic is essential. That is why everyone should follow the stay at home, keep 6 feet from other people, and wear a mask when out in the stores. While the mask you can get will not protect you from others, they will protect others from you transmitting the virus to them. Think about the firefighters and first responders you will need when fire season begins this year and do your part. The more firefighters that are well enough to be on the job the safer the residents will be during fire season this year.

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