By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Each of the four Tucker County Volunteer Fire Departments has recently received decontaminating apparatuses known as Decon Foggers that not only assist in the sanitizing and disinfecting of the emergency response equipment but can extend beyond the use during COVID-19. “The county also bought three more, they bought seven total, one of them went to EMS and two will remain within the county, one for the Sheriff’s Department and one for the county facilities,” stated Kevin White, Office of Emergency Management Director and Company 10 Volunteer Fire Chief.
White explained that the OEM was developed to help the community during a crisis or a time of need. “Sanitizing or deconning your facilities right now is very important to keep the government facilities open such as the courthouse, he said in addition to keeping necessary entities operable such as EMS, fire departments, and law enforcement.
A proposal was made by White to the County Commission for these units, which he said, “Should be reimbursable through the CARES Act fund.” He stated that there are devices that are much more elaborate and significantly more expensive, though the ones purchased are just as effective and only cost approximately $1,200 each. “The good things about the ones that we bought, they are usable for multiple things, not just the COVID pandemic,” he explained. Flu season, virus, and allergy season, all times communicable diseases are present; the Decons can be used to decontaminate the areas.
White continued by saying that medical and hazardous materials can be decontaminated and properly handled with these devices. “They offer different solutions but the solution that we’ve just purchased currently can do multiple things,” he said. “We can use them to decontaminate not only from a crisis such as COVID but also from the everyday biohazards or chemical hazards that we may come in contact with,” he added.
After speaking with the company representative, White was told that according to their records, they have buyers that have told them they have switched from giving their staff flu vaccines, though they do suggest not getting one. Still, this is a costly effort for the company. “Instead of doing that, they have been using these to decontaminate their facilities and have seen less of an uptick in absenteeism during the flu season,” White explained.
The company purchased from is not a recently developed corporation that came about during the pandemic; they have been around for quite some time, said White. When the units were distributed to the firehouses throughout the county, White stated, “These are not just a pandemic related item, these things can be beneficial for years to come.”
Commission President Lowell Moore provided a statement in regards to the purchase of these units. “For the safety and well-being of the public, our employees, and our first responders, Tucker County Commission with the assistance of Kevin White at OEM has purchased seven DECON foggers from Intelegard to be used for sanitization and decontamination of our facilities and equipment. For over a decade, Intelagard has manufactured tactical, multipurpose compressed air foam solutions for first responders, military, industry, homeland security and domestic preparedness personnel. Intelagard systems are designed for rapid multihazard response. The same unit can be used for vapor suppression on Monday, to decontaminate a lab on Tuesday, and for fire suppression on Wednesday – all by simply changing the formulation as appropriate. The patented Intelagard technology produces a unique foam bubble structure that adheres even to glass and inverted metal surfaces.”
Moore continued, “Three of the seven DECON foggers are lithium battery operated, with two of them being utilized by the Courthouse Complex and the third being provided to EMS for sanitization and decontamination of their units and station houses. The remaining DECON foggers are corded and were purchased for use by our four VFDs–Parsons, Thomas, Davis and Canaan, also for sanitization and decontamination of their units and station houses. These DECON foggers are portable and will be used where needed. Also, since they are multi-functional, they can, and most likely will be used for more than sanitization and decontamination.”
Joe DiBacco, Chief of Company 40 Thomas Volunteer Fire Department, stated, “We’re going to be using ours to disinfect our vehicles and the Fire Station itself.” Also, the meeting rooms, bathrooms, and any other frequented spaces will undergo a thorough cleaning with ease thanks to these apparatuses. Besides working throughout the virus, DiBacco plans to use them to decontaminate their firefighter’s equipment such as backboards and stoke baskets, for example. “If we come in contact with blood borne pathogens, it would be beneficial for us to disinfect,” he added.
Chief of Company 30 Canaan Volunteer Fire Department Robert Metzger stated how his crews will be using the decons. “Right now we’d be looking at gross contamination, which means overall decontamination of an apparatus or trucks or maybe even tools that have some type of exposure,” said Metzger. Before receiving this unit, the crews have been using diluted bleach spray and wipes to follow their disinfecting protocol, which requires a lot of man-hours. “Right now we’re just being really careful,” he added.
Allen Cosner, Chief of Company 20 Davis Volunteer Fire Department added that being a new piece of equipment that was received just days prior, his crew is still working to become familiar with the unit. “We were using bleach water and Lysol disinfectant spray and hand washing everything,” said Cosner. “This will definitely make it easier and we appreciate the County Commission going above and beyond to get something like that to help us out,” he added. Cosner stated that the rental hall is used frequently by the American Red Cross for their blood drives and he said the Decons can be used to sanitize before and after the events.
With a long shelf life and multiple formulas available, the decon foggers will be an asset to the county, both during the pandemic and for events outside of COVID-19