MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Fire-Rescue is using a new tool to further sanitation efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The department now has two UVC lamps that use ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria.
“The UVC light has the ability to destroy the DNA of the virus’ bacteria,” said Charles Hines, MFRD Health and Safety Officer.
A firefighter mists a cleaning chemical all over the surfaces of the ambulance, then the UVC light is placed in the back of the rescue truck for about 10 minutes.
“I know the hospitals have been using UVC lights in the past and so I thought that was something we could easily deploy in the back of our rescue trucks,” said Hines.
Firefighters will use the UVC lamps in ambulances after they transport cardiac arrest patients, unresponsive patients, or people who have already tested positive for COVID-19.
The lights are also being used to sanitize bedrooms and other common areas in the fire stations.
“We can’t take care of the City of Mobile, which is our number one priority, if we’re not on the job,” said Steven Millhouse, MFRD Public Information Officer.
Mobile Fire-Rescue started the process of getting the UVC lamps even before blood tests showed seven firefighters had COVID-19 antibodies in their systems. Those firefighters are in quarantine until their COVID-19 tests come back.
A manufactured UVC lamp costs about $5000. Mobile-Fire-Rescue purchased the lights separately and firefighters built their own stands. MFRD was able to build two for about $1500. Mobile Fire-Rescue expects to have two more UVC lights in their rotation within the next week.