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3M Named Official Respiratory Protection Sponsor for Direct Relief, Pledges 5 Million N95 Respirators Ahead of Hurricane, Wildfire Season 



Santa Barbara County Fire Department's Firehawk making a water drop. It can hold 1,000 gallons per trip. (Photo Courtesy of Mike Eliason/ Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.)

In a significant step towards bolstering emergency preparedness and response efforts, 3M and Direct Relief are launching a global Respiratory Protection initiative to increase preparedness ahead of the 2024 hurricane and wildfire season. This initiative aims to increase preparedness and ensure the availability of N95 respirators, which play a pivotal role in helping to safeguard respiratory health during disasters and fostering community relief, re-entry, recovery, and resilience efforts.  

As part of the joint initiative, 3M has pledged to meet Direct Relief’s entire forecasted annual need for N95 filtering facepiece respirators with a donation of 5 million units. These respirators will be utilized in Direct Relief’s global humanitarian response efforts, providing essential protection to individuals in affected regions.

N95 respirators approved by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) can be used to help protect individuals within disaster-stricken areas. They help mitigate particulate smoke exposure during wildfires and offer assistance amid clean-up activities after floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Consequently, N95s constitute a cornerstone of Direct Relief’s disaster response framework.

Serving as the Official Respiratory Protection Sponsor, 3M’s N95s will be pre-stocked and strategically positioned to expedite relief operations to impacted communities, minimizing transit time. They will feature prominently within Direct Relief’s strategic emergency stockpile (SES), encompassing wildfire kits, emergency medical backpacks, hurricane preparedness packs, cholera kits, and an extensive network of U.S. safety net clinics.

This significant new partnership between 3M and Direct Relief emerged out of an over 20-year relationship with 3M products and cash supporting Direct Relief’s global relief, recovery, and resilience efforts including responding to various emergencies worldwide, including the Turkey earthquake, Ukraine conflict, Mozambique floods, Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, and hurricanes and severe weather events across the US. 

“Direct Relief is deeply thankful and privileged to work with 3M on this historic donation that will protect frontline health and emergency responders during disasters,” said Thomas Tighe, CEO and President of Direct Relief. “During disasters that are ongoing, 3M has led by example, stepping up to help protect first responders, health workers, and those at risk, and is once again providing high-quality protective equipment for people enduring fires, earthquakes, and other disasters and crises.” 

This initiative reinforces 3M’s unwavering dedication to supporting communities in need and builds on its long-term commitment to humanitarian relief efforts. Since 2016, 3M has contributed nearly 10 million N95 respirators and other requested products to Direct Relief for individuals in the United States and more than 80 countries. 

“3M is proud to continue our partnership with Direct Relief to expand access to critical protective equipment for natural disaster preparedness,” said Chris Goralski, president of 3M Safety and Industrial. “Access to N95 respirators can make a real difference in the health and safety of first responders and others providing care and support during crises. We will work together with Direct Relief to ensure these essential supplies reach the communities that need them most.”

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