Fire companies and first responders across the First State are facing increased challenges as the coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on resources and funding as cases continue to rise rapidly in Delaware.
There are currently 143 total laboratory-confirmed cases in the state since March 11. This includes 24 additional cases since Wednesday. Of the Delawareans diagnosed, 91 are from New Castle County, 19 are from Kent County, and 33 are from Sussex County.
Firefighters and EMS are out in the field and on the front lines continuing to protect and serve through the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. As a result, daily operations and protocols have changed in the interest of safety, creating increased challenges for agencies and volunteers across the state.
Fire and EMS across the state are beginning to run low on essential supplies, such as safety masks, shields, and gowns.
“Supplies that we don’t normally use everyday such as N95 masks, shields, gowns, that kind of stuff that you would not normally see on every call before this pandemic happened,” explained Jay Jones, president of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association (DVFA).
Restoring those depleting supplies has been difficult as fire companies across Delaware were already struggling financially long before the pandemic.
“A lot of this comes during a time when there’s a lot of events, birthday parties, receptions, and that kind of stuff, and the halls that the fire departments depend on for income as far as hall rentals and stuff are now closed because of no gatherings,” Jones explained. “We’re taking a financial hit.”
Also concerning is the growing unemployment rate, which comes at a time when the DVFA relies on donations and outreach to help with the cost burden of an all-volunteer, statewide fire service.
“With the economy like it is, people are out of work,” Jones said. “When it’s time that we start to knocking on doors, sending out mailers, asking for donations, we’re probably going to start seeing some, as a longterm effect, over the course of this year as far as donation funding from the public and raising money from the actual fire houses.”
For information on how you can help your local first responders and fire company, visit dvfassn.com, call (302) 734-9390 to reach the DVFA, or contact your local fire company.