Fire departments implement procedural changes amid COVID-19 pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Topeka and Manhattan fire departments are implementing new procedures to keep themselves and their communities safe.

"We have to respond when someone calls 911. We have to go,” Chief Craig Duke with the Topeka Fire Department said. “So we're on the front lines of law enforcement doing this."

Firefighters are now equipped with PPE — or personal protective equipment.

“We have the masks, they also have safety glasses they can wear underneath,” Duke said. “Obviously the gloves, the face masks which they can put on, and then we also have the gowns that they can put on as well."

"We're making contact from a distance if we can,” Ryan Almes, deputy fire chief with the Manhattan Fire Department, said. “We're asking about possible sickness and symptoms that people may have, and then if people are sick, we're making sure that we're wearing proper PPE."

Both departments say they're prioritizing disinfecting equipment and firehouses. They’re also making sure no one in the department spreads the virus by taking temperatures before each shift.

"Anybody that is sick will be sent home,” Duke said.

"Our main priority is to keep our people healthy so that we can still respond to emergencies in the community,” Almes said. “We're going to do everything we can to make sure our level of service doesn't change."

Both Manhattan and Topeka Fire say no one in their departments has tested positive for the virus.