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A New Assessment of Wildland Firefighter Respirators

Posted: Dec. 15, 2022

Improve your fire department's procurement decisions with this new assessment of wildland firefighter respirators.

A new market survey report that assesses commercially available air-purifying respirators (APRs) and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) suitable for wildland firefighters is available to help fire agencies improve procurement decisions.

The problem

The standard respirator systems used by structural firefighters are too heavy and bulky to be used in wildland firefighting. Wildland firefighters must carry tools and supplies, sometimes over long distances, and cannot limit their carrying capacity with bulky respiratory equipment.

The reaction

Wildland firefighters often use bandanas and N95 masks for protection because of their light weight and small size. But these masks are inadequate protection against the particulate and gas hazards of wildfires.

The solution

APRs and PAPRs are small, portable and offer protection from hazardous air particles, smoke and gases, making them suitable for wildland firefighting.

The assessment

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently published Respiratory Protection for Wildland Firefighters PDF, a market survey report assessing commercially available APRs and PAPRs suitable for wildland firefighters, including information on:

  • The design and capabilities of 27 APRs and 4 PAPRs.
  • The combination gas cartridge and particulate filter available for that respirator that is most appropriate for wildland firefighting applications.
  • The manufacturer's suggested retail price (from $14 to $1,508).

All products in the survey are:

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified or pending NIOSH certification as an APR or PAPR.
  • Easily carried or stowed in or on load-carrying equipment.
  • Durable and decontaminable.
  • Powered by single-use batteries and have a battery life of at least 4 hours under continuous usage.

This assessment of wildland firefighter respirators was conducted as part of DHS S&T's System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) program.

This article is based on content in the
Dec. 15, 2022 InfoGram.

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