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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | April 20, 2020

11th CES FD continues mission during pandemic

By Senior Airman Xiomara M. Martinez 11 WG/PA

According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.

Several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The most recently discovered coronavirus caused COVID-19. The COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic on March 11.

Throughout the duration of the crisis, the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department continues to provide uninterrupted fire and emergency services to ensure the safety of Joint Base Andrews’ missions, community and firefighters.

“Our JBA duties are no-fail,” explained Ralph Barone, 11th CES fire chief. “The fire department is Andrews’ safety net for most types of emergencies that occur. We must continue to maintain our highest readiness posture regardless of the pandemic.”

Due to increased safety measures, the 11th CES fire department is taking extreme precaution and safety measures to keep the illness at bay.

“Currently, the department staffs the fire stations with the minimum acceptable amount of firefighters on duty to protect the JBA community,” said Barone. “This enables social distancing in the workplace while allowing the building to have a cadre of firefighters ready to take the place of personnel on-duty if they become infected.”

Along with social distancing, the firehouse implemented single point of entry into the stations, closely monitors group health and purchased disinfectant fogger machines to sterilize equipment.

Additionally the team follows strict adherence of personal protective equipment everywhere and strict adherence to infection control measures along with supervisors taking account for fighters both on and off duty.

Despite the pandemic slowing down businesses worldwide, for the department the only impact was to administrative staff and customer service sections.

“Some of my force are on alternative schedules and teleworking which slows some of our functions,” explained Barone. “Our core mission of protecting the JBA community has not and will not slow down.”

Senior Airman John Durviage, 11th CES emergency communications center dispatcher admits, he’s proud to be a part of the JBA fire department during this crisis because of the critical role they play in delivering emergency services to the base so the mission can continue.

Not only have services remained consistent, but the fire team quickly adjusted to these times and are fully in their COVID battle rhythm despite some challenges.

“I am most proud of our team for adapting to the pandemic conditions, while not losing focus on our mission,” said Barone. “All our firefighters take their job very seriously. When a call for help comes, they are ready to respond, pandemic or not.”