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Williams Volunteer Fire takes precautions during COVID-19 as calls dwindle in March

Williams Fire responds to a semi accident on Interstate 40 March 18. (Photo/Williams Volunteer Fire Department)

Williams Fire responds to a semi accident on Interstate 40 March 18. (Photo/Williams Volunteer Fire Department)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Williams Volunteer Fire Department (WFD) responded to seven calls in March and responders were made aware of appropriate precautions to be taken when responding to possible COVID-19 calls.

According to Williams Fire, a limited supply of masks, gowns, eye protection and gloves are currently available for those responding to calls. Responders were advised to wear appropriate PPE for all calls.

During March, William Fire Chief Kevin Schulte attended numerous meetings and webinars related to COVID-19. He signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Coconino County Health Department which allows WFD to exchange information in a good faith effort in order to protect the health and safety of first responders regarding COVID-19. He did not get a response back from city staff and said he felt it was imperative to receive information for potential exposures faster for our responders.

Additionally, volunteers were made aware that the Fire Inspector position for Williams Fire had been posted, however, the position is currently on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department needs

In March, Schulte and other WFD officers met with several Williams council members and discussed the future of WFD.

Schulte said the department would like to see living quarters and at least seven additional fulltime personnel. If funding is available, WFD said they would like to see living quarters at Station 2 but, it would also need at least two personnel to manage the station and volunteers staying in the facility.

Additionally, Schulte reported that the department received one FIDO bag to provide animals with oxygen and should be receiving two more in the near future.

The department was approved for $9,000 for portable radios from the AZ Depatment of Homeland security beginning October 2020.

The department stated it will need to purchase at least two sets of turnouts due to contaminates or age. Schulte said the department will need to add an inspector app to the department’s records management software and purchase a tablet for the inspector position when that position is filled.

The current roster for WFD consists of 14 firefighters, 2 cadets, and 6 support members. The department has had two individuals interested that live outside of the city but said they do not currently have a place to house them for volunteer shifts.

Incident review

Williams Fire responded for a smoke detector activated on March 1. No abnormal readings were found with the gas monitor. Crews found a CO detector on the bottom of a shelf that was beeping. Battery was removed and confirmed the detector had a low battery. Battery was changed and detector was placed back on shelf.

On March 4, Williams Fire was dispatched for a possible structure fire. Upon arrival to the structure, no visible smoke was seen in the area though there was a lingering smell of smoke around the property. Contact was made with residents who had no knowledge of a fire at their location but questioned if their wood stove chimney had been on fire again. Residents stated they had just extinguished their kitchen wood stove that was at the rear of the house. Dispatch contacted reporting party for further information. A through search of the property revealed no fire and no further action was taken.

On March 10, Williams Fire used a CO detector to monitor interior, garage and property during a response. No elevated readings were detected.

On March 17, Williams Fire responded after a car backed into a meter, breaking the meter. Personnel were able to shut off valve. Unisource was contacted.

On March 18, Williams Fire was dispatched for a report of a multi vehicle accident with unknown injuries on I-40. Rescue 1 was enroute with three people to the scene but was delayed due to the distance and back up of traffic for several miles. Rescue 1 arrived on scene to find multiple vehicles involved in an accident with a semi blocking all lanes of I-40 westbound. The crew made contact with DPS on scene and advised there were no injuries from this accident but there was another accident two miles ahead that needed extrication. Rescue 1 was cleared from that call and proceeded to the next call.

Rescue 1 was notified by DPS on scene at milepost 160 about another crash down. Rescue 1 called for mutual aid from Ash Fork Fire due to a semi blocking all lanes of traffic while Rescue 1 attempted to get around the wreckage. Rescue 1 drove into the drainage and on the opposing hillside to pass the semi. Rescue 1 was clear and able to reach the scene at 158 to find a multi vehicle pileup of approximately 11 vehicles consisting of semis, passenger vehicles, SUV, motorcycle, and an ADOT snow plow. Crews were approached by bystanders of one male trapped in his cab and pinned between his cab and a trailer. Extrication efforts were established and Lifeline estimated time of arrival was requested. Dispatch advised Lifeline was not dispatched on initial callout and was about 20 minute response from Williams. Two additional ambulances were dispatched for two other minor patients. All other drivers advised no injuries. Rescue 1 repositioned to the rear of the semi and extrication tools were brought to driver’s side cab. Patient contact was made and used anther semi driver as an interpreter. Crews began extrication of patient and cutting out dash and other components inside. Cab of semi suffered extreme intrusion causing trailer of another semi to pin patient’s legs against floor of patient’s semi and actual bumper of trailer. Crews made relief cuts to seat and lowered patient slightly for left leg to become free. Dashboard was lifted and held by strap creating opening to driver’s area. After left leg was free, the seat was forced back from the trailer creating space for patient’s right leg to become free. Crews were outside of driver’s area and caught patient to prevent falling from cab. Patient was placed on backboard for transport to gurney where Lifeline was waiting. Patient was transported with Lifeline. Second ambulance arrived for care of female patient and transported her. DPS advised to ADOT to move the snowplow vehicle and Rescue 1 was able to get by.

On March 23, Williams Fire Captain 3 was heading westbound at MM 161 in POV when he noticed a 4 door truck on its side on the north side of the highway in the frontage road. Truck drove through the barbed wire fence and rolled 1-2 times before landing on driver’s side. When Captain 3 walked up to vehicle driver was kneeling down on driver’s side window and state he was not hurt and was remaining in vehicle to stay warm. Captain 3 and pedestrians assisted driver out of vehicle over the undercarriage side. Driver stated again that he required no medical attention. Captain 3 advised him to sit in one of the pedestrian vehicles until police or tow service arrived on scene.

WFD Training

WFD cancelled training in March due to inclement weather and COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing.

The S130/190 classes for wildland fire were also cancelled due to COVID-19 and inclement weather.

Lt. Loretta McKenney’s National Registry certification was cancelled and her Firefighter I & II course is currently online only. Instructors are working out how to complete the remainder of the course.

Meetings

WFD conducted monthly meetings the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Station 2.

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