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Firefighters play it Covid-19 safe on job
Ceres Fire Station #1 in downtown Ceres is one of three stations from which calls are answered. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Public safety workers in Ceres continue to work through the Covid-19 shut-down of life in America but have taken measures to ensure they stay safe when dealing with the public.

Since most of Ceres Fire Department’s calls for service are emergency medical calls, firefighters respond by wearing gloves, jacket and N95 masks and eye protection in the form of glasses or googles.

“If we do respond to what we believe is a Covid-19 patient or highly suspected patient, we’ll wear an additional gown over our EMS jacket just for an extra layer of protection,” said Ceres Fire Chief Kevin Wise.

Clothing worn out on calls is left in the apparatus bay, he said.

“We’re just trying to take every extra step to keep our personnel safe,” said Chief Wise.

The county also implemented a fast-track testing procedure for first-responders so that results come back with 48 hours. Only one firefighter with fever has been tested and the results came back negative.

Ceres fire stations remain staffed but are closed to the public to minimize interaction with the public. 

“We instructed everybody to bring their own food for the tour or they could buy food out but no going to the grocery stores, basically no public interaction at all. No public events, no station tours, just limit any non-emergency interaction as much as possible with the public.”

Wise, who has survived two cancer scares and who is more at-risk, has for three weeks been overseeing his department remotely, operating a mobile office out of his RV. He does go into the downtown station twice per week to take care of paperwork.

“I’ve been staying pretty secluded as much as possible. I don’t go out in public at all. My only interactions are going to the fire department and then back home.”

With more people staying at home, calls for service have remained essentially unchanged.  Wise said the county fire dispatch agency, which dispatches for 18 fire departments in the county, has seen a 12-16 percent decrease in emergency calls for March.

“Within the city of Ceres we’re steady.”

A total of seven persons living in Ceres have the coronavirus. Out of a county population of 547,900, 81 have tested positive for Covid-19 as of Monday. No deaths have been reported but 29 have been hospitalized.