Key points:

  • The association will remain available to assist members and other stakeholders via phone, email and social media during mandatory COVID-19 lockdown.
  • A number of mainstream media outlets have been in touch today regarding COVID-19 protection for volunteers, especially when turning out to incidents.
  • The association reminds Bush Fire Volunteers that they must follow the direction of their respective Local Governments, but may find DFES guidelines (below) helpful.
  • If any Bush Fire Volunteer feels inadequately equipped or at risk of contracting COVID-19 while volunteering, they are urged to discuss the issue firstly with their Local Government, then the association and if need be, refrain from volunteering.
  • Any Bush Fire Volunteer who feels unwell with possible COVID-19 symptoms or is in a high risk group (other illnesses etc), seek medical advice.

Importantly, Local Government Bush Fire Volunteers are reminded the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) is not their responsible agency and must follow the policies and procedures of their Local Government.

However, in the absence of such advice, we share the following summary of DFES “Operational Circular 10/2021 – COVID-19 – Update to IOP02”, and New IOP’s 08 and 09 which may provide helpful information and guidelines:

SUMMARY OF DFES CIRCULAR

  • Following a community case of COVID-19 being detected within the Perth area, the WA State Government has introduced strict control measures.
  • There is no exception for emergency responders from adhering to these measures.
  • To provide guidance on how we can achieve these measures during an incident, and minimise the risk to ourselves and the public, IOP 2 – Operational Response Precautions has been amended to detail requirements on;
    • Wearing masks
    • Minimising crew interactions.

IOP 02 – Operational Response Precautions

  • ComCen will ask all 000 and 132500 callers “…is any person at the attendance location affected by COVID-19?”  If the response is positive, incoming crews will be informed and the procedures within the IOP are to be followed.

IOP 08 – Station/BGU Continuity During Lockdown

  • This IOP provides a list of instructions for when attending a BGU facility which includes:
    • Wear a mask at all times
    • If second arriving at an incident, stay in the appliance if not required.
    • No unnecessary movements are to occur to or from stations  (this includes training sessions).
    • No equipment checks required for the next 5 days.
    • Re-establish enhanced cleaning protocols
  • DFES will be distributing masks to responders who require them at incidents they are managing, however for ongoing supplies BFBs will need to obtain these from their LG and other volunteers can request them through their chain of command.

IOP 09  – Deep Clean and Sanitisation of Operational Vehicles and Equipment

  • This procedure only applies if a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in contact with a vehicle or equipment

and

  • contractors are unavailable to conduct a deep clean and sanitisation of vehicles and equipment.

The Volunteer Hub is being regularly updated with COVID information and has links to the relevant government websites to ensure the latest information is available from the original source –

https://volunteerhub.dfes.wa.gov.au/home/support/health-and-safety/novel-coronavirus

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