As discussed with Locals on our regular Local and National Official telephone conferences, we need to remain vigilant to ensure PPE meeting the required standard for medical response under Covid-19 conditions.
The NZPFU policy is founded on the principle that safety is paramount. As neither we, nor FENZ, are experts in response under Covid-19 conditions we rely on credible and internationally accepted health agencies for Covid-19 guidelines. Those guidelines have been considered in the context of the nature, scope and method of medical response undertaken by our members, and the types of exposures including the type and magnitude of bodily fluids.
- It is the NZPFU position that all coveralls used as PPE for medical response must be labelled or be confirmed as meeting the Standard EN14126.
- Do not use other coveralls (or gowns) and request replacement stocks that do meet that Standard.
- FENZ have agreed they will replace the coveralls with the coveralls that are documented as meeting Standard EN14126. FENZ is currently sourcing the overalls that are documented as meeting Standard EN 14126. This may take time but we advise that a delay is not a reason to wear coveralls that do not meet that Standard.
This is the Standard that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention endorses as it is used to evaluate and classify coveralls used to protect from infectious agents. It includes the necessary testing requirements for fluids and aerosols (both medically and chemically related).
We are not in a situation where the appropriate PPE is not available. Investigations have shown that there are various NZ suppliers with reasonable stocks of the coveralls that are documented to meet the Standard and we have informed FENZ of that availability. We have repeatedly asked FENZ for their procurement documentation to understand what FENZ has been requesting, from whom, and why a recent shipment did not include coveralls that are documented as meeting EN14126. We have yet to receive any information regarding FENZ’ procurement of Covid-19 PPE.
FENZ has attempted to claim other Standards are sufficient but meeting “a” standard is not good enough. The Standard must be relevant to the tasks undertaken and the risks of exposures. EN14126 is the Standard for coveralls needed due to the nature and scope of medical response undertaken by firefighters.
We would not accept less protections for firefighting, and we will not accept less for medical response.