Fire Service and new Covid mandates
With the new indoor masking requirements announced on August 11th, the Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Team (OFSCRT) wanted to address a few key considerations for the fire service. OSHA and OHA developed these changes in response to the highly infectious COVID-19 Delta variant, which, as of August 2021, accounts for more than 90 percent of diagnosed cases in Oregon. The Delta variant is approximately two to three times more infectious than the early COVID-19 variants and can be transmitted through passing contact. It has resulted in surging hospital bed usage and reduced hospital capacity in Oregon from COVID-19 patients. If you are interested in reviewing OSHA’s new temporary rule, it can be found here, OAR 333-019-1025: Masking Requirements for Indoor Spaces.
- The exemption explained in Appendix A-11 under previous rules for face coverings for personnel and crews in living quarters will still apply. Therefore, those individuals will not be required to wear their face covering in living quarters or ambulance stations.
- There are existing requirements for ‘health care workers’ to be vaccinated or work with their employer to develop a process for weekly testing. OHA qualifies a health care worker as anyone who has the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. The OHA specifically includes licensed and unlicensed caregivers in their rule language, so most personnel involved as EMS providers may be governed by this rule. If your fire service agency anticipates impacts with the vaccination or testing requirement, please communicate those to the Oregon Fire Service Coronavirus Response Taskforce members to assess the fire service’s capacity and understand impacts. Please send your communications regarding impacts to Oregonsfm@osp.oregon.gov.
- The vaccination requirement for state employees will apply to fire service members serving at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base and Portland Air National Guard (PANG).
- The new requirement on state employees does not apply to the remainder of the Oregon Fire Service members nor to those mobilized statewide.
- The OSFM is working to understand how this requirement will impact fire service members mobilized to fires or incidents after the implementation date.
We will make sure to share updates or changes as they come. Thank you and take good care.
Oregon State Fire Marshal