North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has obtained and distributed 10,000 respirator masks to use as personal protective equipment (PPE) for firefighters on the front line battling the coronavirus.
“Our firefighters need to be protected as they perform the important duty of ensuring our COVID-19 patients get the proper care needed, “said Commissioner Causey. “These masks will go a long way towards keeping the virus at bay as our heroes across the state join the fight against this unprecedented virus.”
The Office of State Fire Marshal purchased 10,000 KN95 masks for $50,000. Although they are not the official N95 mask considered to be the gold standard used in this pandemic, they have been approved as a “suitable alternative” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The OSFM is sending the masks to fire marshals in all 100 counties. The county fire marshals, who know their local needs best, will then distribute the masks to local fire departments.
In a letter to county fire marshals, State Fire Marshal Causey encourages fire departments to continue using N95 masks, which are considered the gold standard of masks, if they have them.