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'Pretty costly': Warner Robins Fire Department glad to see CARES Act funds during pandemic

Round one of the CARES Act relief will bring $1.2 million to the city, with round two bringing the other $2.8 million.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — First responders in Warner Robins will see some financial relief as the first round of the CARES Act money comes to the city.

In all, the city is getting over $4 million.

The first 30 percent of their relief package, which is nearly $1.2 million, will help with the costs of covering shifts when some public safety employees were forced to quarantine.

Warner Robins Fire Chief Ross Moulton says his 124 men and women have been working hard during the pandemic.

"The pulse of the fire department seems to be everybody is in good spirits, they love their job, they love what they do," Moulton said, but like everyone else, they are not immune to COVID-19.

"We've had some positive cases, we've followed the guidelines, of course. All of them have come back to work," says Moulton. "Thank God everything was OK, and, you know, their families are OK."

He says having to send people home to quarantine, means they have to pay other people to cover those positions, which can be costly.

"There were stations involved where we had to send whole crews home, so it's been a challenge, I would say to make sure we cover the trucks, we maintain that minimum staffing on the rigs that we need to fight fires."

Moulton says they've had help from the Georgia Department of Public Health, but a small portion of the funds will also go towards reimbursing the department for protective equipment they bought themselves.

"We had to get, you know, more masks, get booties, more hoods, get HDox, which is a disinfectant, hospital-grade."

He says even with some setbacks, they are still working to protect the community.

"This is an extraordinary group, or family, of people. Like I say, we love our job," says Moulton. "Follow the guidelines, do your part to keep our community safe and we're gonna do our part to make sure we're there to do what we do for you guys every day."

Round two of the CARES Act will bring $2.8 million for the city.

Mayor Randy Toms says those funds will go towards community outreach.

He says they haven't made a final decision yet, but some of the money could be used for more testing, food and whatever needs have been created in the community because of COVID-19.

The nationwide $2.1 trillion relief fund can be used in cities for things like rapid testing sites, disinfecting public areas, teleworking equipment for public employees and food bank services.