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“All members of this department have taken on additional tasks and responsibilities in response to the pandemic. I cannot thank them enough,” states IFFD Fire Chief Duane Nelson. ”We may have changed some of our protocols, but one thing remains constant – our commitment to providing life-saving services to our community. That ethic runs deep in this profession. I’m convinced we will come out of this an even stronger department and an even stronger community.”
IFFD not only provides 24/7/365 fire protection for Bonneville County, but also Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for Bonneville County and portions of Jefferson and Bingham Counties. In 2019, IFFD responded to 14,282 calls (fire/EMS/all-hazard). Many department members also serve on regional specialty teams such as swift water rescue, hazmat, incident management, technical rescue and wildland firefighting.
“The operation of our department is instrumental to the safety of our community. One of our top priorities is keeping our first responders healthy so we can continue to help those who need us. Equally as important is taking precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to our patients, at-risk populations and our families,” adds Nelson.
On March 16, Unified Command was activated to assist with the COVID-19 response efforts. Unified Command is an authority structure used to provide effective coordination and communication during incidents that involve multiple jurisdictions or agencies. In this case, Unified Command consists of leadership from Eastern Idaho Public Health, Bonneville County, City of Idaho Falls and City of Ammon, which is providing support resources to Eastern Idaho Public Health’s eight-county health district. Many members of the IFFD Command Staff serve within the Unified Command structure while continuing to provide direction to the fire department.
Typically when responding to incidents such as wildfires, earthquakes and hurricanes, first responders have the advantage of requesting additional resources from other agencies through Mutual Aid Agreements and Emergency Management Assistance Compacts. Unfortunately, additional resources are not widely available when responding to an unprecedented global pandemic. This is why it is imperative that first responders adjust protocols and why community members continue to be vigilant with preventative measures, including social distancing, hygiene and isolation measures.
Below are some examples of the temporary precautionary measures IFFD has taken in response to COVID-19:
Additional Information: The Idaho Falls Fire Department has provided fire protection services to the City of Idaho Falls since 1885. We are one of the largest full-time paid fire departments in the state of Idaho. There are 127 personnel operating across five fire stations. An ambulance crew is also located in Swan Valley. All firefighters and chiefs are cross-trained as EMTs or paramedics. Through contracts, we provide emergency medical services to all of Bonneville County and portions of Jefferson and Bingham Counties, serving a population of approximately 155,000 residents, occupying approximately 3,500 sq. miles. In 1991, the Idaho Falls Fire Department contracted with Bonneville County to provide fire protection services for all of Bonneville County, serving a population of approximately 117,000 residents, occupying approximately 1,901 sq. miles. We are committed to providing the highest level of professional life-saving services to the communities we serve.
Media Contact: Kerry Hammon, Public Information Officer, (208) 612-8122, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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