Bluefield Fire Department constructs N-95 mask sanitation boxes

BLUEFIELD, WV (WAOY) – The Bluefield Fire Department created UV light boxes that can sanitize N-95 masks. 

The boxes cost around $200 to make and are made from scratch by the firefighters themselves. Lieutenant Robbie Stevenson with the fire department says that they aren’t in critical need of the masks right now, but the boxes are still a huge help to them and other departments. 

“We have secured an effective amount of PPE for the time being, but that’s subject to change at any time. With these boxes hopefully this will ensure that we’re able to maintain the proper supply,” Stevenson said.

A masks take just ten minutes to be fully sanitized and can be reused up to ten times and still remain effective. N-95 masks have always been meant to be single use, but being able to sanitize and reuse them is helpful for departments that may have PPE shortages. 

There has been some debate on whether or not UV light is effective at killing COVID-19. Regular UV lights which are commonly available are not effective. But UVC is another type of UV light which is effective and is used to kill bacteria and viruses, but it’s also the most dangerous to handle. To stay safe, the masks are kept in a black box when being sanitized, and the device is only turned on when the door is closed.

The fire department has so far made three boxes and gave one to the Bluefield Police Department, and plans to give another to the Parks and Recreation Department.