TCFD utilizing disinfectant acid on calls

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, May 14, 2020

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The Troup County Fire Department has begun utilizing a disinfectant solution known as hypochlorous acid (HOCL) to protect first responders from COVID-19.

The department began using the solution in April and is a mixture of salt, water, vinegar and electrochemical activation to protect firefighters during and after medical calls involving person-to-person contact.

According to a news release from the county, hypochlorous acid is an oxidant effective against attacking bacteria, fungi and viruses. It is known to kill germs in 60 seconds and is harmless to humans. This allows the department to use it on various types of equipment and surfaces.

Under the leadership of Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis, the department acquired knowledge of the benefits of HOCL and began looking into developing or obtaining the solution through a vendor. However, due to the components needed for the electrolysis system, the department could not produce HOCL locally, according to the news release.

Once the department located an appropriate vendor for the purchase of the solution, crews developed an easy-to-use disinfect spray system using a breathing apparatus and other materials, which were provided locally with the assistance of Harbor Freight.

Since the solution is safe and non-toxic, crews can use it to disinfect turnout gear, fire engines and commonly-touched surfaces at each fire station.

A spray system has been placed in all fire engines to use to sanitize equipment after each medical call to make the solution easily accessible to firefighters. The department is currently using the disinfectant to sanitize equipment daily and disinfect surfaces within other Troup County facilities.

According to Battalion Chief Roy Cadenhead and Lt. Scott Hester, the system has been a great asset to the fire department during the current pandemic.

“It has allowed us to keep our first responders safe while limiting our exposure to COVID-19,” Cadenhead said. “Through this discovery, we are able to offer extensive decontamination to those who may have come into contact with the virus.”

Cadenhead and Hester have worked on studying the benefits, assembling the disinfect systems, spray equipment and surfaces and educate other members of the department on the solution. “The disinfectant system is a great tool for us to have as first responders because it’s safe to use, but it also kills the virus if we are exposed to it,” Hester said.

The news release said that the agency plans to utilize the disinfectant spray systems indefinitely to protect members of the fire department.