Phoenix fire chief: PPE for firefighters getting 'hijacked'

The department has ordered millions of dollars of PPE that has not arrived

By Janelle Foskett

PHOENIX — Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner says PPE, such as gowns and N95 masks, ordered by the fire department is getting “hijacked,” possibly by the federal government.

The chief’s comments followed an inquiry by 12 News about a Facebook photo showing Phoenix firefighters wearing rain ponchos on a call.

Kalkbrenner said Phoenix firefighters currently have sufficient masks, gloves and protective glasses, but no protective gowns.

“What we needed was a barrier,” Kalkbrenner said. “In light of not having something, this is the best thing we could do.”

She said the department has ordered millions of dollars of PPE that “keeps getting hijacked before getting to the city of Phoenix.”

The chief continued: “Some [the protective gowns] were supposed to come off the coast of California, through San Francisco. We had an order of 2 million pieces of N95 masks. They never made it to Arizona. Either the feds are hijacking them. It’s not the state. They’re not getting them either.”

As for the ponchos, the department consulted with the IAFC, CDC and local health officials, all of whom assured department leaders that ponchos are a reliable substitute for protective gowns, Kalkbrenner said.

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