During a coordination call on Friday with fire chiefs from across the state, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis assessed the needs of the state’s fire service community to assist in successfully distributing a safe and viable COVID-19 vaccine to first responders as soon as it becomes available statewide.
Since February, the CFO’s office noted Patronis has been in constant contact with the Executive Boards of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association and the Florida Professional Firefighters to receive updates on COVID-19 response and recovery efforts from first responders statewide.
“Florida’s first responders have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 response for more than nine months, working to support our communities, businesses, and families as we deal with the devastating effects of this pandemic. With recent news that COVID vaccine trials have been increasingly successful and as state emergency managers work to solidify a vaccine distribution plan, we must work together to ensure that our firefighters are fully prepared and equipped to distribute a safe and viable COVID-19 vaccine to fire stations statewide as soon as it’s available,” Patronis said on Friday.
“Florida is a great state in large part due to our brave and dedicated firefighters working tirelessly to protect us. Many of our firefighters are also paramedics, providing life-saving medical support to our communities every day. Our rural communities also rely heavily on volunteer firefighters for emergency services, so it is vital for their health and our state’s recovery that we do everything we can to protect them,” Patronis continued.
“Our firefighters live in extremely close quarters inside a fire station where social distancing is difficult and nearly impossible when responding to emergency calls. If one fire station goes down with a rash of COVID cases, it puts a strain on the entire fire department in that area. We must do everything we can to ensure continuity of emergency services by protecting these first responders,” he added.
“We’ve got to get our fire stations coordinating with area health care institutions. Some of these vaccines need to be delivered at certain temperatures in certain amounts of time. It won’t be as simple as putting it on a truck and bringing it to a fire station. The fire service community is working tirelessly to ensure the necessary resources are in place including proper refrigeration and handling of the vaccine itself as well as following all protocols on successful and safe COVID vaccine distribution. The speed of delivery will be of the essence when it comes to getting our first responders protected from COVID-19. This won’t be a cookie-cutter process,” Patronis said in conclusion. “COVID-19 vaccine distribution to our firefighters will be an all hands on deck process and we’ll keep coordinating with local, state, and federal officials to ensure our first responders can rapidly get these vaccines once they’re ready for mass distribution.”