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West Hartford Fire Department Encouraging Mask-Wearing and Distancing through Outreach Program

A banner on the town green requests that wear masks for each other. Photo credit: RonnI Newton

The Town of West Hartford has requested the wearing of face coverings or masks while in the Center, and the Fire Marshal’s Office will be handing out masks and encouraging compliance throughout the weekend.

Fire Inspector Marsha McCurdy Adell on patrol in West Hartford Center Friday night, speaking with pedestrians and handing out masks. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

While West Hartford Center is not exactly the same as it was prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is once again a vibrant and busy area full of shoppers and diners, and while that’s a boon to the local economy town officials are concerned that many people are still not wearing masks or cloth face coverings while walking around.

State guidance is that people should wear masks or other face coverings when inside public spaces or when 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. Because West Hartford Center sidewalks often don’t allow for that degree of distance, Mayor Shari Cantor and other town officials have requested the use of masks or face coverings be used in the Center and Blue Back Square.

Signage asking pedestrians to wear masks in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The town has been conducting a social media campaign, and has recently added a banner with the message: “We wear masks for you, wear one for us,” and has added other signage on sandwich boards throughout town requesting the use of face coverings.

This weekend, from June 26-28, the Fire Marshal’s Office has embarked on a “Social Distancing Compliance Community Outreach” plan.

Personnel have been deployed in the Center on Friday night from 6-10 p.m., Saturday from 4-8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

According to Assistant Chief/Fire Marshal Michael Sinsigalli, “The purpose of this program is to improve the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing strategies among the public when dinning and shopping in the Town Center. The outreach efforts will focus on education and voluntary compliance as an extension of the Fire Department’s Multi-Hazard Public Education Program.”

Members of the team, who are all in uniform, circulate among the pedestrians, speaking with them about the maintaining physical distancing when possible and stressing the importance of wearing masks – and “gathering anecdotal data concerning the reasons people are not wearing masks.”

They will also have a supply of masks to hand out to those who don’t have one but are willing to wear one.

The goal of asking about mask-wearing, Sinsigalli said, is to help develop additional educational material specifically addressing the predominant reasons why people choose not to wear them.

The Fire Marshal’s office will also be checking on businesses for compliance with requirements.

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