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  1. #1
    Forum Member Narco944's Avatar
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    Default Will standard gas mask (police) help in a fire?

    My first post here. I'm a police officer just outside Atlanta, GA and had a question after reading an article regarding a cop in Rochester who had run into a building on fire, got into the elevator (big mistake I know), and got sick from smoke inhalation.

    My agency issued all of us PPE kits w/ gas masks. I've also got another new model Avon gas mask issued to me for SWAT. I've used the mask numerous times once we enter a building that we've fired lots (well over a hundred in 1 case) of 37mm and 40mm gas rounds into. The mask works fine.

    I wanted to know that in the event of a fire and we were in a position to enter a structure would this mask work also to filter out the smoke? I'm not sure if the smoke would clog the filter quicker than gas rounds that have had time to dissepate.

    Thanks for the help and your service. Stay safe out there.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber N2DFire's Avatar
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    Although the "smoke" or "Byproducts of combustion" are quite poisonous - the issues you would run into with the type of mask you have are:

    First - It may not really filter out all the "bad stuff" that's in the smoke (based on chemical composition & particulate size).

    Second (and more important) - Even if the mask did clean out all the bad stuff - Your mask is simply a filter and still requires that there be enough oxygen present in the free air to support life. That may not be the case in fire conditions where the fire itself is using up all the oxygen.

    While your type of mask may provide some protection (and something is always better than nothing) - I can not reccomend or suggest it's use in those types of conditions. You are however free to do what you think is best for you.

    Oh - and thanks for your service.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
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    Along with what N2D had to say, you may consider whether or not your filters are designed to filter out the gases that are present in the smoke. Things like Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Acrolein, and Hydrogen Cyanide. You'd also want to make damn sure you had no leaks in your mask, filter, or connection (why we use positive pressure SCBA).

    But the biggest factor, like N2D mentioned, is that you're inside an oxygen deficient enviornment to begin with.

  4. #4
    Forum Member MEck51's Avatar
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    I agree with the two above posts 100% and will add. You are entering an area with elevated tempatures (I realize that is obvious), thus the air you are filtering even if it does get cleaned enough not to kill you, will still be heated, possibly enough to scorch you airway and lungs. Bottom line I would not reccomend the use of an APR in a fire type enviroment.

  5. #5
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    biggest problem like others have said is the heat of the air, the potential for an oxygen deficient atmosphere, but most of all is the mask will not be able to filter out CO. The CO is by far the major reason why gas masks do not offer protection in fire situations.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narco944 View Post
    My first post here. I'm a police officer just outside Atlanta, GA and had a question after reading an article regarding a cop in Rochester who had run into a building on fire, got into the elevator (big mistake I know), and got sick from smoke inhalation.

    My agency issued all of us PPE kits w/ gas masks. I've also got another new model Avon gas mask issued to me for SWAT. I've used the mask numerous times once we enter a building that we've fired lots (well over a hundred in 1 case) of 37mm and 40mm gas rounds into. The mask works fine.

    I wanted to know that in the event of a fire and we were in a position to enter a structure would this mask work also to filter out the smoke? I'm not sure if the smoke would clog the filter quicker than gas rounds that have had time to dissepate.

    Thanks for the help and your service. Stay safe out there.
    Brother, I am a retired LEO with 17 years in the Arson Unit. I was also a Haz Mat Tech and a WMD Tech.

    We purchased 1300 Air Purifying Respirators to be issued to all the cops in our county in 2004. Although they were not placed into service before I retired, my partner and I basically put the whole program together.

    Our biggest issue was training. We had to train the cops what the could do with the APR. But more importantly, we had to teach them what they COULDN'T do with it. As has already been discussed, an APR is useless in an oxygen deficient atmosphere. I'm assuming that your APR's are CBRN rated, so theoretically the filters should take care of everything in the smoke except the superheated air.

    In short, don't enter a fire with an APR.

    Does your PD have a respiratory protection plan? They should. This kind of stuff should be clearly laid out in that plan.

    If you have any other quesitons, email me at wendtcfi@optonline.net.

    Be safe
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  7. #7
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    I would say if you came upon a fire situation and felt a need to act don't use any type of mask. This way you won't get a false feeling of security and put yourself into situation your equipment isn't able to handle, possibly causing your death. It's like the body armor used for making an armed entry, you need the proper protection. Being forced out by heat and smoke doesn't make you any less dedicated. And you will be able to go home to your family at the end of the day...Stay safe

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    Your mask will not protect you from everything but superheated air. It will not save you from CO, the one thing along with the lack of Oxygen that will kill you in a fire.
    Last edited by jonnyirons2; 12-19-2008 at 04:42 PM.

  9. #9
    B Shifter rjtoc2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyirons2 View Post
    Your mask will not protect you from everything but superheated air. It will not save you from CO, the one thing along with the lack of Oxygen that will kill you in a fire.
    Even with a firefighter's PPE, the heat is a HUGE issue!

    Adrenaline and the insulating properties of our PPE usually hold the heat in check for a few minutes. Then, it gets warm really quick once your gear gets hot and you are crawling around trying to find the fire (much less the seat of the fire!).

    The contents of the smoke and the heat will make most non-SCBA respiratory protection ineffective.
    rjtoc2

    career Fire Captain
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    ***The above post (s) is/are MY opinion and do/does not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of neither my employer nor my IAFF Local.***

    Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof, and make counter accusations.

    A lack of planning on your behalf does NOT create an emergency on my behalf.

    When all is said and done, alot more is said than done

  10. #10
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    1st I want to thank you for your service in law enforcement. Your job is just as dangerous as ours with other factors envolved. We just lost a an HPD brother, may he rest in peace, and as brothers in service, our hearts go out to all Policemen and women who have answered the call..

    2nd although the moment will come when we all must make a split decision to save a life, may I stress that unless there's NO OTHER OPTION, to not place yourself in a situation where-as you may become part of the incident yourself.. i.e. a victim.

    You have a good heart and good intentions but along with all the noted points on the smoke/particles/gases, there's more than just equipment that makes a firefighter... a firefighter and that's training.

    You might be on scene with a light smoke showing, walk inside and in a split second the conditions go real bad.... to heat and thick black smoke banked to the floor. even the best and most trained firefighters can't even be 100% sure what we're walking into when we're walking into it because conditions can change at the drop of a hat.

    also our equipment/gear is to protect us from not only smoke/gases ect.. but heat as well... our gear is specialy designed and rated to take a certain temp.. but once it reaches it's limit even the best PPE will fail in the heat.

    there may not be any heat rating on your gas mask. so even though it may protect you from the smoke, it may not last in a heated enviornment.

    Stay Safe...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjtoc2 View Post
    Even with a firefighter's PPE, the heat is a HUGE issue!

    Adrenaline and the insulating properties of our PPE usually hold the heat in check for a few minutes. Then, it gets warm really quick once your gear gets hot and you are crawling around trying to find the fire (much less the seat of the fire!).

    The contents of the smoke and the heat will make most non-SCBA respiratory protection ineffective.
    The obvious lack of bunker being worn being gear precludes the need to explain that our PPE protects us from heat. I think the guys with the guns know fire burns!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyirons2 View Post
    Your mask will not protect you from everything but superheated air. It will not save you from CO, the one thing along with the lack of Oxygen that will kill you in a fire.
    You couldn't possibly be more correct. I was thinking of the particulates and other deadly gasses that a P100 will catch. I was making the assumption that he was aware that the usual result of a lack of oxygen is an elevated CO level. That was a poor assumption on my part.

    Bottom line, I think we would all agree, is that an APR should never be used for interior fire conditions.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

  13. #13
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    Holy $h1t! George and I agree! Get ready for the apocalypse! I think its going to happen on Jan 20th!

    An APR is good for only areas that are not deemed an IDLH based upon metering from a calibrated source. They are never to be used for an area that could be or still is burning. I would only use one for a particulate based decon operation, never in a contained area that is thought to contain at any time a chemical deemed dangerous. Its not worth it.

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    Yup, what everyone else said. Low oxygen and CO will kill you in an instant.

    However, you gotta do what you think is right with the information you have at the time. Just remember, a couple breaths of that and it's curtains.

    From a former LEO and SWAT operative here too....stay safe and thank you!
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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