(March 25, 2020 3:18 PM) Local firefighters are now fighting a different common enemy: Coronavirus. On March 25, the Summit/Jackson Professional Firefighters Union entered into a special operating agreement with the City of Jackson to respond to the threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Jackson Fire Department and Summit Township Fire Department have agreed to jointly staff a special response unit working out of a reopened fire station. Firefighters assigned to this special unit will primarily respond to known or suspected COVID-19 incidents. If all fire crews are working a fire scene, the special response unit may be dispatched to a high priority rescue incident. Members of the special response unit will not be assigned to other fire stations to avoid spreading the illness to fellow personnel.
Captain Scott Stoker of the Summit Township Fire Department, and president of the firefighters union, says Summit Township just hired three additional firefighters to staff this special response unit. “This agreement puts plans in place for firefighters to efficiently respond to COVID-19 incidents. It also helps make sure firefighters can stay healthy while we protect the area. Insuring the safety of the community is what we’re tasked with on a daily basis, and our response will continue during this situation. It’s encouraging to see local departments and governments coming together during this time of crisis,” Captain Stoker said.
Elmer Hitt, Director of the City of Jackson’s Police and Fire Services, says the special response unit is in the process of being formed, and is expected to be fully operational within a week. “We thank the union for working with us to make this unit a reality with the best interest of the community at heart. Despite the uncertainty of this pandemic, we feel the new unit will have a positive impact on our response to COVID-19 in Jackson,” Director Hitt said.
Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies also applauds local firefighters for their efforts to fight this illness. “First responders are the frontlines of the community’s response to the pandemic. Reopening the fire station with Summit Township and establishing a dedicated response team for Coronavirus-related calls will help keep firefighters safe and minimize community exposure while they respond to emergencies. It’s a collaborative step our City is taking to protect public health here in Jackson,” Mayor Dobies said.
The agreement will remain in effect until May 31, 2020. By May 18, firefighters and officials will meet to determine if the agreement should be extended.
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