Thanks to an in-house invention, Grandview Heights firefighters have changed the way they clean their rescue vehicles and fire station in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The new method employs a cleaning apparatus concocted by fire medic Robert Stults.

Instead of wiping down the medic vehicles and fire engines with cleaning solution by hand, Stults designed a rig that uses a spray gun.

“It’s just a spray gun that we put our disinfectant in and hook it up to an air hose,” he said. “We’re able to atomize it around the surface of the vehicle’s interior and let it sit for about 10 minutes.”

During that time, any germs or viruses are killed, Stults said.

In addition to cleaning the vehicles each day, firefighters also deep-clean ambulances after each run, he said.

The disinfectant the department uses has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as effective against the coronavirus, Stults said.

“We not only use it to clean the vehicles, but we’re also using it to disinfect the different areas of the fire station, including the areas where we eat and sleep,” he said.

The new method of cleaning saves time because fire personnel don’t have to do all the cleaning by hand, Stults said.

“We’re able to do more cleaning with less effort,” he said.

The rig he devised allows the pressure of the spray to be increased or decreased depending on where it’s being applied, Stults said.

“It helps save money because you don’t have to use more than you need,” he said.

The cleaning solution is mixed with water before being applied, he said.

Stults, who will mark his first anniversary with the department in May, described himself as a “tinkerer” who likes to work with his hands building and making things.

“I do a lot of woodworking at home as a hobby,” he said.

Grandview Heights Mayor Greta Kearns praised Stults for “his ingenuity and creative problem-solving” to “MacGyver a rig” that allows firefighters to clean fire medics and engines more quickly, efficiently and safely.

“All of our departments are using different practices and procedures to deal with the COVID outbreak and still make sure we’re providing the highest level of service for our residents,” she said.

The city is looking at how a version of Stults’ device can be used in other departments, Kearns said.

The city’s police department already is using the fire department’s cleaning rig to disinfect some of its vehicles, Stults said.

“It’s nice to see it benefiting not only fire, but police as well,” he said. “We’re all about trying to help each other.”