The Rockland Fire Department is asking for the community's help in equipping its first responders with personal protection masks in the face of a growing threat from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rockland Fire Chief Christopher Whytock said Friday that the department has about 150 N95 masks for its 18-member department but that is insufficient for what they are expected to need.

"I am hoping to reach out to all the contractors, painters, store owners, medical offices, and anyone else who may have N95 masks.  As everyone knows the supply of proper PPE is so low, and we are being told we will not see any relief in the coming weeks.  I am pleading with anyone who is willing to either donate or sell them to our department, we would welcome any amount that is out there and not being used for healthcare workers and first responders," Chief Whytock said Friday.

People can call the firehouse at 594-0318 and the department can arrange to have the equipment dropped off or even picked up, the chief said.

The chief said the N95 masks are intended to only be used once, however, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is telling departments they can re-use them if needed.

"I'm not comfortable with that," the chief said. "They wouldn't be saying that if there was a sufficient supply. I'm not willing to lower the standards."

He said the department put in orders for the N95 masks in January and the state has received two shipments but more are not expected for quite some time.