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NC fire marshal launches statewide COVID-19 registry for first responders

The state will collect infection and quarantine data voluntarily submitted by public safety agencies to better combat the virus’ spread among first responders

By Laura French

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has launched a statewide COVID-19 registry for first responders to better combat the spread of the virus among fire and EMS personnel.

State Fire Marshal Mike Causey, who is also the state’s insurance commissioner, announced the launch of the registry last week, saying that North Carolina is the first state in the nation to collect data on first responder virus cases statewide.

The OSFM partnered with RTI International to create a survey that allows public safety leaders to voluntarily report COVID-19 infections and quarantines at their agencies, providing real-time data for state leaders to understand how the virus is affecting first responders and what is needed to protect them.

“Throughout the pandemic, our first responders have risked their own health and safety to protect our communities and it’s our duty to protect them,” Causey said in a statement. “This new technology will allow me and other state leaders to see first-hand the health issues of our first responders so we have the data necessary to get them the needed help.”

Causey also said the reports from fire and EMS departments will help strengthen his requests to Gov. Roy Cooper and state legislators for additional support for public safety agencies during the pandemic, including requests for increased coverage for presumptive cases of COVID-19.

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) is tracking the virus’ impact on its members across the United States and Canada, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) also hosts a fire and EMS personnel impact dashboard created from data reported by agencies across the continent. Causey says OSFM’s registry differs from these widespread efforts because it is strictly focused on the statewide needs of North Carolina first responders.

The OSFM is also planning to launch a first responder cancer registry to show how various types of cancer are affecting first responders in the state. This registry will also be used to push for additional coverage and presumptive legislation.