COVID-19 is creating new challenges for firefighters. As wildfire season is around the corner, policies and procedures are still evolving for how COVID-19 will affect out-of-state agencies coming into Montana to help fight fires.
Social Media Coordinator for Billings Firefighters Cameron Abell said, "One of the big things we're looking at when the wildfire season kicks off is when other agencies come into the state to help share resources when fires get out of control and get really large. What does that look like for us and what does it look like for other agencies we work with?"
Abell said Billings firefighters are currently wearing masks to all medical calls. They also have health checks at the beginning and end of every shift.
He said, "I think anybody who doesn't get nervous probably is lying to you. The one thing I take comfort in is falling back on my training and falling back on our protocols to make sure that we're safe. It's drilled in from day 1 when we start this job to make sure you're safe that's our number 1 priority. If we get injured, we're not able to help anybody."
There is an above normal wildland fire potential in parts of Western Montana for July and August according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Abell said there are things people can do to make their homes safer from wildfires. One thing thing is to clear roofs and gutters of dead leaves, pine needles and debris. Other ideas can be found here.
He also said it's important to remember to make sure campfires are completely out. Sixty percent of wildfires are human-caused according to The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.