MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An order for one million N95 masks, heading to the Miami-Dade County Fire Department, will not arrive as planned.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue recently ordered the NIOSH-approved N95 masks, including 3M, Honeywell, and Moldex brands, but the shipment is not coming because the vendor claims the Federal Government may have taken it.
A statement released by the Miami-Dade Fire Department Thursday afternoon reads in part, “In reference to the purchase order in question, the N95 masks from such order were in the process of being secured when the vendor notified MDFR that the product was no longer available. MDFR was notified by the vendor that they will be attempting to secure another allocation from another one of their 3M partners. According to the vendor, the Federal Government was looking at securing a million masks as well, possibly affecting the order that was on its way to Miami-Dade County. However, we cannot confirm the validity of that statement as we are unaware of how that process takes place.”
Meantime, a CBS4 source says it was the Federal Government that took the masks.
According to the source, the masks never made it to Miami-Dade because before they were shipped, the Federal Government, under powers granted to them under the Defense Production Act, took the masks to be allocated based on national priorities.
The County did not lose any money, says the source because the $4 million order would have been paid upon delivery.
Miami-Dade fire officials say they have been able to acquire “adequate day-to-day PPE for our personnel by securing smaller orders.” They say it isn’t as efficient as they would like but is successful so far to meet the needs of the daily operation for now.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue notes it is crucial they purchase only PPE that meet rigorous Federal safety standards as required by the CDC. It is one of the 10th largest fire departments in the country which buys PPE year-round and works only with vendors that sell approved PPE.
“We cannot afford to compromise the safety of our personnel by buying products that do not meet CDC and industry standards,” said the MDFR statement.
The department believes while challenging, it has been successful in securing an adequate number of approved PPE, for now but that could change.
“Any changes in additional requirements can tilt the scale of supply and demand to a point where we would no longer be able to secure this critically needed equipment.”