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The ‘Year of the Mask': Firefighters show commitment to wearing face masks

Face masks became just another part of the PPE lineup in 2020

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When people look back on history, it will become clear what year a picture was taken based on the presence of one single item: a face mask.

Thanks to the spread of COVID-19, face masks have become as precious an accessory as our prized cell phones, and almost more valuable. You can go to the grocery store without your cell phone, but not without a face mask.

In the fire service, this was even more true, as the nature of the job requires constant interaction with community members, making face masks another part of the uniform this year.

Check out these photos of firefighters from across the country sporting face masks on the job, a sign of their commitment to protecting the health and safety of citizens.

Firefighters wore masks ...

1. ... during this important conversation about mental health resources at Orange County (Fla.) Fire Rescue.

2. ... at Tampa Fire Rescue Fire Station on Halloween for a spooky vibe.

3. ... at the Orlando Fire Department while honoring the sacrifice of first responders on the 19th anniversary of 9/11.

4. ... at first responder vaccination sites, where many members of the El Paso (Texas) Fire Department received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

5. ... during this heartwarming exchange with a future Oklahoma City Fire Department recruit.

6. ... when educating community members about fire safety and prevention, with a reminder from the Charleston (S.C.) Fire Department to make a home escape plan.

7. ... while supporting breast cancer awareness, like the pink shirts worn in October by members of DeKalb County (Ga.) Fire Rescue.

8. ... during their fire academy graduation, like the proud members of Atlanta Fire Rescue’s Fire Academy Recruit Class 19-1.

9. ... while honing their skills, like these members of Tallahassee (Fla.) Fire Department earning their CPR recertification.

10. ... while going above and beyond the call of duty, such as this member of Alameda County (Calif.) Fire Department, who finished the cement job a patient was working on before experiencing a medical emergency.

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.