Emergency Response Team Adjusts To COVID-19

As the threat of COVID-19 began to be known in this country, Foster Fuels (Brookneal, Va.) responded in many ways. For one, a trailer normally used as a mobile command unit during emergencies was stationed outside its headquarters and used as a medical checkpoint. There, a nurse conducts daily temperature checks on Foster Fuels team members to spot any early signs of the virus.
Foster Fuels full service propane provider responds To Coronavirus to protect employees, customers and help community reports BPN the LPG industry's leading source for news since 1939

Foster Fuels transports fuel across the nation and provides full propane services in Virginia. Adapting to challenging circumstances is nothing new to the company’s team members and its dedicated standby emergency division, Foster Fuels Mission Critical. Mission Critical provides emergency fuel supply services nationwide and is the prime emergency fuel contractor for the federal government. It has been responding to hurricanes, snowstorms, tornados, fires, power outages, and other widescale emergencies since 2003.

“Our contracts cover propane, diesel, gasoline, and Jet A, and we refuel anything that is key infrastructure, including generators and fleets,” Chelsea Harrison, vice president of marketing at Foster Fuels, told BPN. “Mission Critical has a different staff and leadership, but works closely with the rest of Foster Fuels. During a major activation, we all work hand in hand.”
Foster Fuels propane company responds to coronavirus with strategic plan to protect customers and LPG employees reports BPN the industry's leading source for news since 1939
The trailer used as the medical checkpoint is one of four that are among Mission Critical’s assets being used during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep operations running. “The trailers are usually mobile command centers or sleeping cabs, depending on the need,” Harrison said. “A nurse was brought in for this. She checks temperatures and answers questions.”
Foster Fuels propane provider responds to COVID 19 in LPG service reports BPN may 2020

That is one of several preventive measures Foster Fuels has taken in response to COVID-19, while its operations continue without interruption.

Prevent Runouts: Foster Fuels alerted customers to check their fuel level. A stay-at-home order may cause an increased use of a propane-burning product such as a tankless water heater and require an adjustment to their fueling schedule, the company explained. Those who have signed up for auto-fill were asked to inform the Foster Fuels team of their increased usage so the company could adjust the timing of their next fill.
Stock up: Foster Fuels Mission Critical suggested that its commercial customers stock up on supplies critical to ongoing business operations. The company invited them to call for top-offs, emergency deliveries, or with any questions. “Our fuel quality team went out this morning to provide services,” Harrison said. “HR talked with them to make sure they had the proper PPE and followed best practices.”

Disinfect: At Foster Fuels locations, employees consistently sanitize company assets and workstations. Handwashing stations have been installed outside Foster Fuels’ headquarters. “We have handwashing stations before entering the building,” Harrison reported. “We’ve also placed hand sanitizer everywhere. A team member is constantly going through wiping down desks and disinfecting everything.”
Foster Fuels takes CORONAVIRUS Precautions for propane customers and LPG employees and helps community with medical tent reports BPN

Close showrooms:
Foster Fuels has temporarily closed public access to all its propane showrooms to ensure the safety of customers and employees. If customers need assistance, they are invited to call Foster Fuels. If necessary, showroom team members will come outside to assist customers, while practicing social distancing.

Social distance: Filling station locations are still offering propane cylinder refill services. Here, too, social distancing is practiced. “We stay six feet apart, following best practices,” Harrison explained. “We try to be approachable without being literally approachable.”

Go paperless: Foster Fuels invited customers to go paperless and receive paperless statements to remove the chance of exposure to COVID-19 via mailed items. The company’s online portal enables users to view deliveries and invoices, make payments, order fuel, and manage all aspects of their Foster Fuels account.

Minimize contact with surfaces: Foster Fuels has stopped placing delivery tickets on customers’ doorknobs. Until further notice, tickets are being placed inside of tank lids to minimize touching surfaces to protect both customers and employees.

Inform customers: The company has been sharing the protective measures and procedures it is taking to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers via updates on its web page and social media.

Update employees: Foster Fuels president and CEO Watt R. Foster, Jr. has been hosting weekly video updates with the Foster Fuels team during the COVID-19 epidemic. One of the Town Halls was posted on social media to share what the Foster Fuels team is doing during these trying times.

Partner with others: Foster Fuels has partnered with Meals on Wheels to pack and deliver meals to local residents who are homebound. Team members also took part in their local Red Cross Emergency Blood Drive. The American Red Cross has had an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations due to COVID-19, the company explained. Foster Fuels also encouraged members of the community to support these efforts too.

To keep up to date on the pandemic and best practices, Foster Fuels has a COVID-19 task force and closely follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. A key to being prepared for the current situation—as with emergencies and the daily work of a propane company—is training. “Pretty much anything we can be trained on, we will be,” Harrison said. “Anything to mitigate risk to our employees and customers and ensure we are ready to serve.” — Steve Relyea