Local firefighters will have presence at fair

By Jennifer Woods - jwoods@aimmediamidwest.com

The first aid booth is planned to be at the Fayette County Fair next week and local firefighters will be present, according to Washington Fire Department (WFD) Chief Tim Downing.

Downing explained that fire stations in Fayette County are taking turns working approximately 12-hour shifts each day of the fair with various firefighters being present during high-risk events such as the demo derby.

According to Downing, the fair board allows local fire stations the use of an air-conditioned building for the long hours they are present.

The WFD is planned to run the booth on Wednesday. According to Downing, the building will be used for the firefighters and will mostly be closed to the public this year; however, the use of the booth for emergencies will be considered.

For the most part, all treatments/ first aid will be administered outside, explained Downing. People needing attention who will break six-feet social distancing will also be asked to wear a mask. The WFD firefighters will not be required to wear masks as they have been working in close quarters with one another for the entire state of emergency.

These precautions are in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially with the increase of coronavirus cases, we are trying to maintain distance from the general public as much as possible,” said Downing. “We can assist multiple other agencies around the county like EMS, law enforcement — we can’t do their jobs, but we can at least follow directions and assist them. If people here get sick or in the other fire departments get sick, there’s nobody that we can tell, ‘here’s your gear, now go into the burning building and put the fire out.’”

Not only is illness a concern due to staff having to be off work, but all those they come in contact with needing to be quarantined is also a concern, as well as keeping the community healthy and safe.

Downing explained that most fair-goers think of the booth for first aid, which has been supplied every year, although first aid is not the main concern of the firefighters.

“We’re there primarily for fire protection,” said Downing. “First aid is secondary for us, although we’ll assist as much as we can. If something goes wrong, if there’s a fire out there, we’ll respond. The crews out there will respond initially to try and quench whatever is happening. In the past, we’ve had some incidents that could have very quickly gotten out-of-control, but because we had crews on the fairgrounds, they were able to contain the incidents and keep them very minor. It’s very good for us to have crews out there, because with the number of people who show up to the fair, we really don’t want something to get out of control and endanger all of those people.”

He further explained that EMS staff members typically volunteer their time throughout fair week to help provide first aid.

If COVID cases continue to increase, Downing explained they would need to withdraw from the fair for the firefighters’ safety.

“We have to look at the overall community and what’s most beneficial. If we bring illness into this department, then we can’t protect our community. We’re just going to keep watching everyday and make new decisions every day,” said Downing.

Downing will also be conducting inspections of fair booths on Monday.

“If you’re going to be getting close to the firefighters, or EMS, or any first responders, we would certainly appreciate it if you wear your masks,” said Downing. “If something happens to one of these people here, it effects the entire community, whether it be the police department, the sheriff’s office, EMS, or any of the other fire departments. If one person gets sick, it’s going to effect everyone in the department, and that’s going to negatively impact our ability to provide quality service to the community.

“We ask that people who want to approach us, to also understand that they may not have any signs or symptoms, but they could be carrying it. And if they carry it and give it to us, and then we bring it into the department, then it would be a terrible, negative impact on the community.”

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 of on Twitter @JennMWoods.


By Jennifer Woods