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Houston car wash pitching in to sanitize first responder vehicles

HOUSTON – Houston’s first responders are in high-risk of contracting the coronavirus while protecting and caring for the public’s needs. Whenever an ambulance crew loads a patient or a police officer transports a suspect, there’s a risk to being exposed to the virus.

“Everything we do, we’re highly exposed. Everyone we come in contact with, we don’t know who they’ve been in contact with or if they’re COVID-19 positive or not,” said M.T. Mulcahey, a Houston police officer.

Currently, 35 Houston police personnel and 29 fire department employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

To keep those numbers from growing, a local car wash is offering an extra line of defense. Joe’s Car Wash, 2223 Montrose Blvd., has been a family owned fixture in the area for decades. Now, it’s providing a special service for first responders -- sanitizing vehicles inside and out with super-heated hot water that runs through an onsite boiler.

“What we have is a really big heating system inside the equipment room. We’ve activated that up to about 125 degrees,” said owner Michael Watson. “We don’t normally keep it this hot and this undiluted, it breaks up anything that’s going to be in there or on there.”

As an extra precaution for first responders, workers also swab out the interior with a type of disinfectant that’s used in hospitals.

“They have to deal with somebody, they have to put them in the back of their car. They gotta take them down to jail and as soon as they’re done they come up here. It takes me 60 secs, they open their door, I disinfect the entire car,” Watson said

He said he’s gotten a big response from police officers and fire fighters. It’s an extra level of protection for men and women who can’t stay safe at home.

“It does give us a little more peace of mind if we touch a surface maybe missed if we were at the jail or the station, it’s now sanitized and we don’t have to worry about it,” said HPD officer Mulcahvey.

The car wash is open 24 hours a day, so it’s available for all shifts, around the clock. And it’s free for first responders who want to stop by to clean their city vehicles for personal cars.