Twenty Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency firefighters will go into self-isolation after returning to Nova Scotia from training in the U.S. for the past two weeks.
Assistant fire Chief Chuck Bezanson said the self-isolation is a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I can verify that nobody is feeling unwell at all,” he said. “They have reported that they feel great, they felt great the entire two weeks.”
Bezanson says the firefighters had been in Perry, Ga., a rural area nearly located two hours south of Atlanta by car, to train in urban search and rescue.
They had been at the Guardian Centers of Georgia, a site where first responders from around the world receive disaster and response training.
Bezanson said there had been no cases of COVID-19 in the area at the time of the training.
Once the firefighters land in Halifax, they will be met by the fire department’s deputy chief of safety who will review steps they need to take to self-isolate.
“We believe that the risk is very small, but we believe it’s the responsible thing to do to isolate these folks just to ensure that there is no risk to themselves, their families or others,” Bezanson said.
From there, the firefighters will be taken by bus to their urban search and rescue facility to offload their equipment. From there, they take their own vehicles home or will be offered a ride.
Bezanson said he doesn’t anticipate any gaps in service as a result of the 20 firefighters going into self-isolation.
The fire department is taking extra precautions to ensure the health and safety of firefighters during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For example, Bezanson said firefighters are asking questions about wellness, practising social distancing and — if needed — wearing masks, gloves and goggles.
As of Saturday, there are still no cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. There are so far two presumptive cases in New Brunswick and P.E.I. announced its first case on Saturday afternoon.