Heroes in the Community: Michael Ferreira of the Charlotte Fire Department
Firefighter Making Adjustments to COVID-19
By Sam Perley
Michael Ferreira spends a third of his life working at Fire Station 1 of the Charlotte Fire Department. And as a Swarm 365 member for 11 years, he spends a lot of his free time catching Charlotte Hornets games at Spectrum Center. Oddly enough, the two locations are located just a mere two blocks from each other.
The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has left much of society in a state of flux, firefighters included. Things have been somewhat normal for them for the most part, although increased levels of protection when responding to calls have certainly been taken by the CFD.
“The way we run is in three shifts,” Ferreira explained. “We have A, B and C shifts. We work ten 24-hour shifts a month. Our schedule has stayed exactly the same. The only thing that’s really been affected is our call volume. We’ve adjusted some of the calls we go to in order to limit our exposure to patients.”
“We have minimum levels of PPE (personal protection equipment) we have to wear for every call. We’ve always worn PPE, but not to this level. Now, if any patients answer one of our five [precautionary] questions as a yes, we have to get in full PPE. It’s a fully-enclosed garment with a face shield, gloves, mask and everything. For us, it’s a pretty minor adjustment. We’ve always done the PPE thing. We’re just operating with more heightened awareness now.”
Originally from New Jersey, Ferreira spent 10 years serving in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. After leaving the service, he relocated to Waxhaw, NC, where his mother was living at the time.
Expectedly so, call frequency has decreased a bit since the stay-at-home order implementation, says Ferreira. With less individuals out and about in the community, things have been a touch slower than normal.
“Most of our population in the area is nine-to-fivers, which has gone dramatically down recently. We’re a lot more aware with our medical calls. Even with non-medical calls, we still wear masks and everything. We keep our social distancing when we’re talking to patients. There has to be a high level of call like a traumatic injury or a cardiac arrest for us to actually get in there and really do patient contact.”
A long-time basketball fan, Ferreira grew up not having allegiance to any one particular team. Attending a few Bobcats games here and there when he first arrived to the area eventually convinced him to become a season-ticket holder.
“I’ve always been a basketball fan, but I’d never had a team that I really rooted for,” he recalled. “When I moved here, a friend of a friend was big into the Bobcats back then. I went to a few games with him and we decided to get some tickets together. Eventually, he went off and didn’t want to do it anymore and I ended up keeping them. Been doing it ever since.”
Like many, Ferreira has been encouraged with what he’s seen on the floor so far this season from the team’s younger core of players.
“I think the team did the right thing [in] getting some young talent in here and trying to develop it,” he said. “I like that there were a few guys playing in some of the All-Star events. I feel like it’s slowly going in the right direction. As a fan, I obviously want to see fast results. As far as players, I’ve always liked Kemba. It was sad to see him go, but understandable. I like Miles Bridges currently. I think he’s a good, young player. He shows a lot of effort.”
All in all, work life has been a little different for Ferreira and other firefighters during the COVID-19 outbreak, although the extensive precautions will stay in place when things begin to reopen. One thing the pandemic hasn’t affected is the passion Ferreira has for his job, which is just as strong as it’s ever been.
“It’s a different atmosphere as far as life as a firefighter as opposed to somebody that might work for one of the banks uptown. I love my job. I always have. Aside from the excitement of being a firefighter, I work with nine other guys at my station that I call brothers. We’re a very close-knit family and I trust each one of them like I would trust anybody else in my life.”
And when the NBA finally does return and allows fans back into the building, Spectrum Center will be just a long-awaited short walk away for Michael Ferreira.