Should firefighters be exempt from wearing face masks?


    The wearing of masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 continues to be a contentious issue but should firefighters and other emergency service first responders be exempt from wearing them when carrying out their duties?

    The UK Government along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone wears a mask in public settings, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained.

    However, there is a very real possibility that a mask could interfere with the work of firefighters or first responders, especially when they are performing tasks that require physical exertion.

    Face Masks may inhibit important communication

    Face masks covering the mouth and nose may also inhibit communication by muffling sound and obstructing facial expressions. Such communication is of paramount importance for firemen working as a team in an emergency, or when they need to give clear directions to the public.

    However, fire and other emergency services also face the same challenges as other businesses and institutions in seeking to remain safe in a communal workspace. Masks are a useful preventative measure for firefighters working together in a communal area or when training or resting.

    Wearing masks in public also allows the emergency services to demonstrate unselfishness and respect for others to the local community.

    While a face covering or mask, weather made of paper or cloth, can help to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus by reducing the dispersion of virus-laden droplets, sufficient flexibility is needed so that the use of masks does not interfere with other lifesaving duties carried out by firefighters and other emergency service responders.

    Fire Depot has been the UK's favourite fire safety supplier for over 50 years. We have a range of PPE and Infection Control products, including Type IIR disposable face masks.  For more information, call us on 0330 999 2233 or email between 8am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.

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