Skip to main content

Pooler Magazine

The Local Fire Department KEEPS POOLER SAFE Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Local Fire Department KEEPS POOLER SAFE Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Story by Kassidy Fikes | Photos by Jami Brennan

Our first responders have not had the luxury of social distancing or taking time off from work. They have been out there ready to respond whenever we need them. Chief Simmons of the Pooler Fire Department was more than happy to let us in on how things have been different since the pandemic began. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the department in both positive and negative ways. It has definitely reinforced the importance of having the proper safety gear and equipment when going out to assist the public. Disinfecting everything once back at the department is something that is done. If there is a suspected patient, then only one responder goes in and does what they can to assist until the paramedics get there. This is the department’s own form of social distancing.

Another positive is that there has been a 15% decrease in total calls since the pandemic started; which means that people are not requiring 911 as much. “The one category we have that has skyrocketed in call volume is smoke scares,” Said Chief Simmons “what we are finding out is people aren’t used to being home and cooking a lot!” The smoke scare calls are already 3 times as many as there were last year at this time.

The negative is that the additional equipment that each responder has to bring if and when there is a suspected case slows down their work process. When there is a suspected patient the fire department requires that the responders wear masks, gloves, and a plastic gown to protect themselves and others.

Despite the pandemic, the tasks and responsibilities of the department have not changed, though there is a notable difference in the lack of interaction with the public. The station has been forced to halt station visits and interaction with the children in the community. Sadly, they do not get to have any interactions that are not emergency related.

When asked if anyone in the department goes above and beyond their job the Chief chose to single out a very humble Lieutenant Josh Daniels. Lt. Daniels grew up in a family of first responders from firefighters to police officers, and so naturally it became his life-long dream to carry on his family legacy.

When asked how he thinking he excels at his job, Lt. Daniels says, “I don’t really think I do, if I excel it is because I have a good unit, it’s a team effort.” Lt. Daniels is also head of recruitment for the department and has had a decrease in applicants this year as a result of not being able to go out into the public and recruit in person.

Another issue is that because of social distancing, it has become increasingly difficult to get the documentation needed from the potential candidates he does have. But Lt. Daniels has made the best of a difficult situation and still plans to go through with the candidate’s 5-week training program.

When asked what his favorite part of the job is, he said, “I don’t know if there is a part I don’t like! But I do really enjoy the family aspect of this job. This department—we are a family.”