Calgary firefighters move to 24-hour shifts to cut exposure risk during COVID-19 pandemic

Henson said that Calgary hasn’t seen the same issues, but they’re trying to limit the risk to firefighters as much as possible.

“We don’t have anybody who’s been affected by on-duty exposure,” he said, but noted a handful of firefighters are nearly at the end of two weeks of self-isolation after being out of the country.

“They’ve never been back to the workplace since (coming home), so nothing’s happened to the workplace.”

Firefighters are often the first responders at medical calls, and Henson said depending on the information they get, their response will be different, too. If there’s a risk someone has COVID-19, firefighters arrive outfitted with masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection.

“If a person has COVID-19 symptoms, of course we’re taking even more precautions,” he said.

Calgary firefighters are also voluntarily deferring their vacation to later in the year to make sure there are enough people at work every day. Henson said that isn’t mandatory for now, but they’re watching how the need for emergency workers changes in the coming weeks.

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