Jeff Wainwright, WSCFF 2nd District Representative and Chair of the WSCFF Wildland Committee, represents the WSCFF at the Washington State Fire Defense Committee (FDC). Here, he reports on the birth of the COVID-19 Quarantine Report.
During the early stages of this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the FDC discussed a frankly frightening scenario – the possibility that fire agencies would be forced to stop operating due to losing so many fire fighters to quarantine and isolation. This would trigger a State Mobilization request, one that may not be filled in the event there was a lack of statewide resources because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Friday March 13, WSCFF Legislative Liaison Bud Sizemore and I asked the FDC if anyone was able to track quarantine rates by region. FDC Chair Chief Steve North, McClain/Black Lake Fire, did not feel the FDC regions would be able to get an accurate count nor keep it updated consistently. Chief North and the rest of the FDC felt that this would be a very important resource to be used as a forecasting tool to allow the State to start preparing in advance of any fire agency request for assistance. Chief North asked if the WSCFF had the ability and capacity to communicate with our membership and survey them regarding members being quarantined or Isolated. The goal was to have a daily report that could be shared statewide so all agencies would have up-to-date information.
This was the birth of our COVID-19 report. Thanks to the work of Local 2024 President Ryan Herrera, who was already working on an online reporting system for his members and the locals in the WSCFF 9th District, we were able to put together a system very quickly. Executive Assistant Helen Kramer took the project and ran with it, making it a very detailed, functional report that we were quite literally able to produce to the FDC at the very next meeting on March 16. Many agencies have been and continue to use the information in this report daily.
This COVID-19 tracking report has been one of, if not the most, successful and interactive events we have ever seen from our locals with nearly every member of the WSCFF accounted for and most locals updating almost daily. I would like to thank all the local leaders of this great organization for making this report a daily priority, allowing the WSCFF organization to again play a key role during a very trying time for the country.
I would also like to give a special thank you to Local 2024 President Ryan Herrera for his help and allowing us to use his already developed system. After a few weeks, the data outgrew the original platform and we moved it to a different application, so it is updated in real time on our website. I also want to recognize Helen Kramer for her diligence in getting this project off the ground and updated daily. Without her work, this report would not be as detailed or precise as it continues to be.
Please continue to report the numbers, even if they are all zeros (our favorite number to see!), so the FDC can continue to monitor the impact COVID-19 is having on our departments and plan accordingly – especially as we enter wildland fire season.