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Phoenix Fire Dept. reusing protective equipment amid COVID-19 outbreak

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX – The national shortage of personal protective equipment has forced the largest fire department in Arizona to be resourceful regarding lifesaving equipment.

On Friday, the Phoenix Fire Department directed all personnel to wear gloves, masks and eye protection during all 911 calls and public interaction.

Before that, firefighters would save PPE only for COVID-19 calls in order to preserve supplies.

“We don’t know how long we can last through our shipments or when the next is coming,” Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“We have to be smart.”

The Phoenix Fire Department has taken steps to inform its members how they can protect themselves from COVID-19 while also recycling desperately needed N-95 masks and glasses.

“In an effort to make our PPE last, we are putting out internal videos, memos, everything we can to show our members how to properly reuse a mask or glasses,” McDade said.

That includes informing personnel when it is not safe to reuse PPE.

If there’s any indication that PPE has been damaged on a call, it will be thrown away.

But firefighters will reuse PPE worn during a low acuity call — such as a car accident in the open air or an incident where no one is symptomatic.

“These are unprecedented times for us and we have to adapt to what’s in front of us,” McDade added.

“We owe it to the citizens and our members to make this equipment last.”

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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