Senators request PPE and testing for wildland firefighters

Oil Creek Fire near Newcastle, Wyoming
Developing a strategy at the Oil Creek Fire near Newcastle, Wyoming, July 1, 2012. On the right is Pennington County Fire Coordinator Denny Gorton. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Three U.S. Senators sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence today urging the Coronavirus Task Force to help secure personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing kits for firefighters and federal law enforcement personnel tasked with wildfire response.

Below are excerpts from the letter crafted by Senators Lisa Murkowski, Alaska; Joe Manchin, West Virginia; and Tom Udall, New Mexico.

“Peak fire season comes closer every day. However, it is our understanding that the supply of PPE in the Federal interagency inventories does not meet the expected need, and firefighters are having trouble acquiring additional PPE on their own. We also understand that many of the available testing methods may not be conducive for wide scale use.

“We ask that resources be used to develop and support an effective system of COVID-19 testing tailored to protecting firefighter health and maintaining the cohesiveness of federal wildland fire response.

“Wildland fires often occur in rural and remote areas, and already-taxed rural and tribal health services should not be expected to have the resources to manage COVID-19 cases coming from an active fire camp or when crews arrive in their hometowns after demobilizing from a fire.

“Firefighters and fire support staff put their lives on the line every day to protect us, and we need to make every effort to protect them from this virus, so they can safely fight fires and return to their families when the fires are out.”

Murkowski is Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. Manchin is the Ranking Member of the committee and Udall is Ranking Member on the Appropriations Subcommittee.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

15 thoughts on “Senators request PPE and testing for wildland firefighters”

  1. I am so sorry…but if this little invisible germ scares you…then maybe you should consider another career. this has gotten way out of hand and way too much politics involved to hold any real world world value…especially in this industry.

    1. Maybe you’re right, Dan.
      Donald Trump says that Americans should consider it a “badge of Honor” that this little invisible germ has infected more than 1.5 million and killed 92,000+ of us. So don’t wear a mask or wash your hands, and lite up another unfiltered Camel ciggy. Real wildland firefighters live forever, don’t we?

    2. The “invisible germ” you speak of has killed more people in the US than the Vietnam War. It does not discriminate by age, sex, or career field. In an environment where the line between doing our jobs well and safely is blurred by social distancing and other pandemic protocols, maybe you should re-evaluate your understanding of “real world value” and come back to reality.

      1. I am not sure what school you went to…but simple math…
        Assuming the world population is 6 billion and that under reported and over reported will equal out when this is all done being scammed… 4.86 million cases equals .000826 of the population and 326 thousand deaths equals .000054. And we shut down all of the economies of the world for that? What do you think they are trying to pull…sure not my leg.

        1. In the beginning of my fire career it was people like you, who think are smarter than everyone else and act like they are the coolest person in the room, that I learned to trust the least. You aren’t who you think you are.

      2. “It does not discriminate by age.” Well, actually it does. It’s fairly simple, the older you are, the fatality rate rises astronomically. From the CDC….During the period of 2/01/2020 through 5/20/2020 the total number of
        COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were 68998. 85 years old and up=22543 deaths. That means seniors 85+ accounted for 33% of the total deaths. During that same time period, COVID-19 deaths reported in children between
        1-4 yrs old=2 (not a typo). That means (thankfully) children 1-4 yrs old only accounted for .00003% of the total deaths linked to the virus From Feb 2020 til now.

        So, yes it does discriminate by age. Do the math. Facts not hysteria is what we need at this time.

    3. I’m trying to figure out what your point is Dan. Are you saying if one does get the virus we shouldn’t really worry about it and it’s ok to go home and hug our family…our grandparents?

    4. Wildland firefighting is about mitigating risk. This is just one more risk to be mitigated appropriately. Medical professionals should guide us in what is necessary and we should follow it.

  2. one of the things about airborne is if you cough it dispels for up to 27 feet and stays airborne for 4 hours and stays on surfaces for up to 6 hours. How do you stop any of that…?

    1. Fires burn 40 miles an hour at 2,000 degrees and make 7 mile jumps, how do you stop any of that?

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