FDNY reinstates mask mandate for fire and ambulance personnel due to rising COVID and other virus cases

January 15, 2024
FDNY Bronx New York Fire fighters

In response to increasing cases of COVID-19, flu, and other respiratory viruses, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) has reinstated a mask mandate for all firetruck and ambulance personnel while providing patient care.

This directive, effective immediately, mandates the use of surgical masks, preferably N95s, for all those engaged in pre-hospital emergency treatment in New York City.

FDNY revises safety protocols amid health concerns

The department-wide directive, issued on Friday, marks a return to stricter safety measures that were last observed in early 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FDNY had relaxed its mask requirement in February of the previous year, following the lead of state health officials who ceased mandating masks in healthcare facilities.

Comprehensive coverage for emergency responders

The updated mask mandate encompasses a broad range of emergency personnel, including firefighters who are certified first-responders, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and volunteer ambulance staff.

This move aligns with the January 1 mask mandate implemented in all 11 NYC public hospitals, as well as medical clinics and nursing homes operated by NYC Health + Hospitals.

Official statements on the mandate

FDNY spokeswoman Amanda Farinacci stated: “This is in line with the public hospital mandate to wear masks. We offer pre-hospital care.

“It would make sense to be consistent with what the hospitals where we are bringing our patients are doing.”

Echoing this sentiment, Vincent Variale, president of the Uniformed EMS Officers union, affirmed: “We are in and out of hospitals all day and night. It’s also good practice to wear a mask when dealing with patients who may have contagious diseases.”

FSJA Comment

The reinstatement of the mask mandate by the FDNY represents a significant step in safeguarding the health and safety of not only the emergency personnel but also the patients they serve.

This proactive approach, aligning with protocols in public hospitals and healthcare facilities, reflects the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other respiratory illnesses.

As emergency responders are at the forefront of patient care, particularly in pre-hospital settings, the mandate ensures a consistent and enhanced level of protection for both responders and the public.

The decision, guided by recent trends in virus cases, underscores the FDNY’s commitment to adapting its safety measures in response to evolving health risks.

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