Brookfield Fire Chief David Masirovits said his department has fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although a number of his part-timers have asked not to be scheduled – those who were deemed to be more at-risk due to health issues, and those who work full time elsewhere and have been asked by their home departments not to work anywhere else – the department has been able to fill its shifts and, for the most part, keep Station 51 on Addison Road open.
“My staff has been great,” Masirovits said. “They’ve been showing up to go to work each and every day knowing what risk is involved and knowing that there is an increased risk during this time, yet, they’re still coming to work and they’re still doing their job and they’re doing it in a wonderful way. I got a great team.”
The department finds itself sufficiently stocked with personal protection equipment, “should this virus make a comeback,” he said, and the pandemic has been a teachable moment to the department members.
“I think that what this virus has done, what this pandemic has done, for my staff is it’s opened their eyes to how communicable a disease or a virus can be, and I think that just that in itself will have a cause and effect for more rigorous cleaning, more detailed-oriented work as far as disinfection goes,” the chief said. “After every call, we always disinfect the ambulance. It’s not a sterile area, but it is a clean area where medical procedures are done, so it’s important to keep that clean. We just pay a little bit more attention to it now.”
The closing of the fire station to the public has been a blow to the morale of the firefighters and the tradition of the fire service.
promo“I’ve been an open-door kind of person for my whole career, and I believe that the public should be in here,” he said. “It’s a little different closing the doors and not having families and public and visitors here at the fire house. I look forward to that coming back some day, but I don’t foresee it in the near future.”
The department is down one full-time member with the retirement of Capt. Mike Hagood, and the pandemic has helped slow hiring a replacement.
The township trustees also are in contract negotiations with the fire union, and Masirovits said he would like to complete those talks as they could impact the criteria for hiring a captain.
Masirovits said he hopes to be able to hire from within the part-time staff – there are potential candidates he thinks meet the criteria – but would open up the position to outside applicants if there is no interest.
Currently, Firefighter Derek Hollander is acting captain. The department has one captain for each shift, who runs firehouse and on-scene operations for that shift. The other captains are Nick Cresanto and Steve Smoot.
In other news, the department received $9,000 in federal CARES Act money to help offset some of the expenses associated with COVID-19, including the purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
The department also received a $10,000 grant from the state fire marshal’s office for turnout gear — the hats, boots, coat and pants that firefighters wear to fires and other calls that require heavy protective gear. Turnout gear is generally considered to have a useful life of 10 years due to the breakdown of its fibers from use.
The department will have to add another $1,000 to be able to purchase a full five sets, and Masirovits said he will be budgeting and looking for other means of replacing other turnout gear that will expire over the next few years.