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Brothers and Sisters,
Good evening. Thank you to all Firefighters, Paramedics, Pilots, FSA's, Dispatchers, Fire Prevention, Forestry, and Health Hazmat Fire Personnel for your tireless efforts on the front lines. We have all been working so hard, both on and off duty, to deal with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching impacts.
This Friday update, like each week, contains useful information in the attachments and links for our members and for our families at home. Please get your information from reliable and confirmed sources: Local 1014, Department EA’s, IAFF and CPF as well as FireSync App which all have COVID-19 information links with the COVID-19 reporting link as well.
Click here to view all Local 1014 COVID-19 Resources
PPE AND SAFETY AT WORK
Please continue to make sure your crews have the proper PPE with gowns, masks, and goggles as well as cleaning supplies and follow the mandates and guides for dealing with COVID-19 suspected patients and in general while at work. It is critically important that all of our members adhere to the twice-daily screenings to ensure no one comes to work and brings COVID-19 exposure into the firehouses and sites.
In addition, please remember that your conduct both on and off duty with regard to social distancing and cleaning makes a difference in not only your health but the health of those you work with and their families. Be responsible and let us all do our part. Please review the latest PPE and Social Distancing Guidelines (See guidelines here).
We are embedded in the Ready Net order and supply center with our IMT in charge. The Union and Department are in contact with the CEO, BOS, and Public Health to coordinate priorities within the County and ensure we are a priority. If you have any issues getting your PPE please contact Director Jason Green who is working with Chief Robertson and Ewald.
Members have access to County-controlled hotels dedicated to public safety only (Fire, Sheriff, and Lifeguards) to use in the event quarantine at home is not an option due to the inability to have safe social distancing from other family members or high-risk family members at home. All Unions have thrown together a relief fund to provide food, internet, etc. at these three hotels. The hotels are located in Santa Clarita, LAX, and East End. The Union along with ALADS, PPOA, and LACOLA worked together in a lobbying effort with the CEO to secure these resources.
If you are positive or have symptoms and have a need for the accommodations please notify your supervisor and call any Union Board Member. We will handle that arrangement. We have also set up Health Programs Services, Union and PEER outreach calls for our quarantined members. As a reminder, quarantine is for 7 days and 72 hours symptom-free.
Time Off and How it is Coded - COVID-19 Exposure Reporting
- Sick Time - Members who take sick off duty or found at morning screenings.
- Ordered Absence - ZD for those to have been exposed and are symptomatic - full pay, no benefit time used.
- Confirmed COVID-19 Test Positive - Converted to Injury Claim and “I” process.
- Please Follow COVID-19 reporting policies to track and also set up for reimbursement for the County and Fire in the future (See EA here)
Dr. Kazan is the coordinator for all LA County COVID-19 testing. He has secured Firefighter priority for testing, but please watch the Doc Talk videos below for information on the criteria necessary for a test. However, it does us no good to burn through the tests as they are limited (“false negatives”, not effective in the timeline of quarantine or treatment). Signs and symptoms are also necessary for the documentation of this virus. Please note the CPF, our state Union is working to secure Firefighter tests through a large diagnostic firm. Local 1014 will help to administer those tests for LA County Department. More on the additional testing as we finish that negotiation. Also, the Local 1014 Health Plan will cover the test, but most doctor’s offices and clinics will approve with criteria.
Please also see the latest training "Doc Talk" videos done by Dr. Kazan below for more information on health safety and sanitization best practices.
Class 156 is a go! - Recruit classes remain a priority to fill Vacancies during the crisis
Local 1014 along with the Fire Chief, Training Services Section, BC, Training Captains, Chief Breshears, Dr. Kazan, and our partners at County Public Health came together to make history. With the impending cancellation of drill towers in other Departments, we decided to work outside the box to create a COVID-19 Environment Drill Tower. We made this program from the ground up, called the military partners, and worked to have a shortened 6-days a week drill tower with essential skills handled on the grinder. We engaged Zoom, and online learning in addition to outside classrooms and precautions like washing and decon stations. While this is not a perfect training environment, we are relying on the Training Instructors to adapt and remain flexible as we navigate these uncharted waters.
Finally, we secured contracts with two hotels at each drill tower site where recruits will be sequestered, just like boot camp, for six days a week with Sunday off allowing for socially compliant family time. We have included the Peers and Clinicians for both the recruits and the Instructors during this time. The medic FF class will be out in 5 weeks and the non-Firefighter veterans' portion of the class will be out in 8 weeks. Going six days a week makes that literally 25 days and 42 days. We will keep you posted as we progress. Other departments have already reached out to mirror our plan. We are also preparing Del Valle for June’s class and three more after that. We must stay on course to hire and fill vacancies throughout this pandemic or we will see the ramifications later on.
Peer Support Help and Resources
Our Peer Team has been meeting weekly to assess needs not only with our regular calls but the additional impact due to COVID-19. Our Peers, along with clinicians, have been reaching out to those in quarantine or exposure situations, to families, to the Executive Staff and to the Executive Board of the Union. They have made a huge difference during this crisis. Take a look at the Behavioral Health Tools from IAFF, CPF and Local 1014 including the attached COVID-19 Family Guide which we mailed to our members' homes. The Peers will be an integral part of Class 156. Thank you so much for your work.
Legislative and Political Action Report
At the Local County level our relationships with the BOS, CEO and Fire Chief helped ensure we had a seat at the table for the COVID-19 response. In every aspect including, tools. equipment, policies, procedures, best practices, and timekeeping, we were included and able to ensure our members had a relatively seamless transition to a COVID-19 work environment. Thank you to Chief Osby for partnering early and often--we continue to navigate this storm together.
At the State level, as 7th District Vice President, and at the National level in the 10th District, I am working on behalf of the Executive Board and Local 1014 to help ensure the Federal and State financial aid is in place for LA County and LA County Fire. Additionally, we are helping write the legislation for workers' compensation, health, and safety for COVID-19. The legislature is back in session in April and we are confident we will have bipartisan support for our legislation. In the meantime, we are also working on a Governor’s Directive. Local 1014 proposed law to ensure that existing 4850 time for injured workers off duty is tolled during this time due to the inability to access IME’s and Doctors for treatment. We are also working through the IAFF to amend the Ryan White Act to include COVID-19 for reporting of exposure.
We were also part of the LA County Labor Management Team that worked to secure the USNS Mercy. This was a tremendous effort. Thank you to the President for working with us to get that done. Also thank you to Governor Gavin Newsom for his help and continued support for Firefighters with regard to PPE’s, testing, health, safety, and work comp issues. A bipartisan effort is truly happening at the state and federal level.
A word of caution however on the federal aid packages, we are in the third financial relief package and no relief for folks making what our members make, and no real money for local government for the loss of revenue. Just as businesses are getting aid, LA County and all Counties need general revenue loss relief. While LA County Firefighters are essential workers and we have Fire District funding, we are all subject to the financial situation at the County of LA. We will continue to stand with our fellow Unions to lobby for direct financial support which is so critical to the County budget, our healthcare and pension funding. We will keep you posted. Please follow along with Local 1014, CPF and IAFF for updates.
Local 1014 Health and Welfare staff moved to telework
Safe Social Distanced Briefing of Local 1014 Health Trust Team on Telework with our IT consultant James Sileo of CityscapeITPros.
Local 1014 Executive Board and the Health Trustees came together to create a plan to move our workers to telework. Given the closures of non-essential businesses and a possibility we may get moved into that category, we acted immediately for the safety of our employees and their families. This was a huge undertaking. We moved quickly to secure the hardware, cell phones, and establish internet with the bandwidth needed, and secure HIPPA and ensure security for every job at the Union Hall. This three-phase plan includes some office time for essential personnel with once a week runs where our postal machines and reports must be handled on-site. Thank you to all who worked on this endeavor so we can ensure uninterrupted health care coverage for our members while protecting our employees.
Local 1014 is working daily with Chief Deputy Richardson and his OPS Executive Staff to formulate a COVID-19 safe staffing levels plan. This is not easy and we have already been at near 20% vacancy due to injury and vacancy in the ranks. Engineer and Captains ranks are filled up a bit better and the FFPM positions are fairly good. The FF rank is devastated and as we work to fill those ranks by running the towers we also seek other relief. We are clarifying for the Department that pre-COVID-19 staffing levels are what we have been dealing with for months now. There are things like lifting the cap, not counting work downs or recalls against the cap, and other staffing agreements we can structure to help. Fixing workers' compensation so that our members can be seen, diagnosed and treated in a timely manner and efficiently running drill towers are all items that are part of this plan. For COVID-19 impact for regular staffing and strike team needs, should we be in that situation, we are working on trigger points by agreement and methods to secure staffing levels rather than lose staffing during this time. Even a two-platoon system is in the mix should we get there.
In conclusion, do your part, follow the rules both on and off duty to work and live safely in this environment. Be kind and supportive to each other at work, and take time to ensure your families are secure and safe with good information and communication. Physical and mental health is important. Leave time for plenty of that at work, as well as consider reaching out to the peers if needed. We will continue to update you each week and as necessary when new information on health and safety is available.
LA County Fire and Local 1014 members have done a remarkable job to ensure our workforce is safe and protected as we serve on the front lines. Let us know if you have any needs or items you need help with during this time that we may not be aware of yet.
In Solidarity and Strength,