Big Bear Fire Department is joining forces with all fire departments in San Bernardino County to form a united front against COVID-19.
Dan Muncey, San Bernardino County Fire Chief said this crisis is a lot like any disaster or crisis for fire agencies. An incident command system is in place that works well, Muncey said.
San Bernardino County Fire Department is at full response work force at this time, Muncey said. Delay in response time is due to dispatch asking more questions when someone calls for service via the 9-1-1 system.
The interagency team allows all fire departments to share resources as needed, Muncey said.
San Bernardino County Fire Protection District activated its Incident Management Team on March 6 to identify a plan to manage the exposed and/or sick memers of its agency. After seeing the impact COVID-19 has had on communities, multiple fire agencies in the county united. The original goal was to maintain uninterrupted service to residents of the county. The mission has been expanded to incorporate 18 agencies into the team.
“This is a collaborative effort that we have used effectively in numerous natural disasters,” said Kathleen Opliger, deputy chief of operations for San Bernardino County Fire. She is the incident commander for the management team. “COVID-19 is different from fires or floods in that it is a hazard that simultaneously threatens both the public and our first responders,” Opliger said.
Under this joint management team, it’s possible fire department personnel could be shared among different agencies under certain circumstances, not unlike during a major wildland fire when strike teams are deployed.
Jeff Willis, Big Bear Fire Chief, was not available to provide detail on how Big Bear will be involved in the management team. Big Bear Fire Authority joins San Bernardino County Fire, Apple Valley, Barstow, CalFire, Chino, Colton, Loma Linda, Montclair, Morongo Valley, Ontario, Rancho Cucuamonga, Redlands, Rialto, Running Springs, San Manuel, Victorville and Yermo fire departments on the team.