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Disinfectant bombs and UV light contraptions: Cuyahoga Falls firefighters get creative during pandemic

Posted at 8:24 AM, May 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-10 19:46:33-04

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — What do you get when you combine a lamp stand, a timer and a germicidal bulb? According to a self-admitted "tinkerer", it's another weapon to protect firefighters and the public during the pandemic.

Lt. Tom Carano, a veteran firefighter with the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department, came up with the idea and built five of the devices-- one for each of the city's five fire stations.

Carano said the UV bulb-on-a-stand is placed in the back of squads for 20 to 30 minutes in an effort to kill germs.

"Just an extra layer of contamination. We're also using that lamp inside the stations after we wipe down the rooms," Carano said.

He also modified five plastic totes with reflective insulation and added sockets. The UV bulb is screwed into a tote and cell phones and personal protective equipment, including N-95 masks, are placed inside the glowing containers.

"Whatever we put in there can get, with the reflective light ,a 360 degree decontamination," Carano said. "Right now, they (the masks) are in short supply so we're doing everything we can to make those last longer."

Firefighters stressed they're not sure if the UV light can kill the coronavirus on items or surfaces, but said why not try it as a secondary disinfectant?

"In light of the virus, every little thing we can do extra helps make our city and populations safer," Carano said.

Lt. Rick Malak has also channeled his inner MacGyver skills by repurposing the patient exhaust area of the squads. One end of tubing, is placed over a patient's mask-- already covering the mouth and nose-- while the other end is connected to the exhaust.

"It exhausts their entire exhaled air so everything they breathe out get exhausted immediately. This is before they even get in and it lasts the entire transport," Malak said. "The idea is for first responders safety and it's important to maintain our numbers in our house so that we can still serve the public."

In addition, the city spend more than $4,000 on a device the firefighters call "a disinfectant bomb."

Carano said the AMBUstat Fogger is placed is squads and aerosolizes a hydrogen peroxide solution into the air. The department has just received training training on the device and is planning to use it every two weeks on each squad.

"Our plan is to put those in the back of squads, aerosolize the back of the squad for about a half hour and then it has to sit for another 15-20 minutes," Carano said.

The department, which averages about 25 runs a day, is also aggressively practicing more traditional sanitizing measures, including wiping down the ambulances with disinfectant after every patient transport.

Carano believes, in the age of COVID-19, it's critically important to be as clean as possible.

"It's important for us because we want to make sure if we do run a COVID patient, there's no left over contamination in the squad that can affect us or for future patients."