#068: East Contra Costa Fire Battalion Chief Talks Fire Response During COVID-19 Pandemic

On this episode, I chat with East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Ross Macumber about the fire districts responding during COVID-19. We talk about a variety of things around what is being done in connection with the virus. We also get into how there are fewer car crashes, but they are larger incidents. We then chat about the District as a whole, such as retirements, new hires, number of stations, and work being done to be sustainable. Lots of good info in this episode that ran a little over an hour,

01:08 – Intro of Ross Macumber

02: 20 – What is it like Day 1 as a firefighter. Biggest fears and biggest screw up first few days in the profession. Talk about firefighting being a lifelong craft and always strive to learn.

07:30 – Update on ECCFPD and response to COVID-19.

09:00 – What is it like when you see other District firefighters and police officers come down with COVID-19 or those first responders pass away. Explains how fire industry does not like to be reactive, they want to be proactive.
14:00 – What is the typical process on a COVID-19 call/response

17:10 – Is the COVID-19 response adding time to call response?

19:17 – What is the relationship like working with local law enforcement and AMR right now with social distancing?

22:50 – Is the Fire Department tracking COVID-19 houses? Keeping uniforms/clothing clean after a call,

28:25 – People released out of jail and homeless encampments, theory on how COVID-19 could stay in the area and impact it could have in the fall. Exposure to both first responders and citizens.

32:45 – What can the public do to help ECCFPD during COVID-19. Potential of mental health issues at the end of this.

37:28 – Car accidents, fewer cars on the road and fewer crashes, but accidents are bigger.  Contra Costa Fire had an engine struck.

40:36 – We get into recent ECCFPD retirements and new hires.

46:27 – At one point, ECCFPD did not have enough qualified people who could promote up to drive fire engines. We get into salary issues in the past, unsure of layoffs and job security. Personnel became a training ground for another district to hire from.

49:34 – how Fire Chief Brian Helmick and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District worked the past several years to make major changes to the district to make it a competitive district and backend changes.  Could the District ever go down to 2 stations?  Macumber assures the community the District is on stable ground for 3-stations over the next decade.

56:14 – Macumber explains what is going on with the next 3 fire stations. We also get into need for more stations. He gets into the wind event last October on Bethel island which created 3 separate fires for a complex between Bethel Island and City of Oakley and shutdown both Bethel Island Road and E Cypress Road near Summerlake. Plus, other events that occurred that weekend. We proved we need 6-engines that day. Explains how fire districts are not supposed to rely on their neighbor district everyday to cover calls.

1:05:30 – End on positive, what is the outlook of the fire district right now. What does Macumber see?

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