For Immediate Release
DHS Science & Technology Press Office
Contact: John Verrico, (202) 254-2385
WASHINGTON – This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded $980,531 to TDA Research, Inc. based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, for an 18-month project to develop a respiration protection system that will protect firefighters against chemical vapors and particulate hazards during overhaul operations.
“As a former firefighter myself, I am fully aware of the toxicity of some of the debris that remains once a fire has been extinguished,” said DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Robert Griffin. “This research and development project will help ensure that responders involved in overhaul and cleanup efforts have the critical equipment they need to breathe safely.”
Responders who remain on-scene after a fire has been extinguished to perform overhaul operations typically wear their self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during initial stages of cleanup, as this is the only means of complete respiratory protection at a time when they are greatly at risk of inhaling carbon monoxide. In later stages, many remove their SCBA when the CO levels have been deemed safe (by OSHA standards); however, since CO levels do not correlate to the concentration levels of other potentially hazardous materials, they still face exposure to chemical vapor and particulate hazards. This award will fund development of a new comfortable, lightweight and affordable filtration system that will provide respiratory protection for firefighters from hazardous material during overhaul operations, while requiring little maintenance.
“This new respiratory system will shield responders from airborne hazards during overhaul operations, while increasing comfort compared to using their SCBAs,” said FRG Program Manager Bill Deso. “We look forward to working with TDA Research and our First Responder Resource Group — an advisory group made up of all disciplines from all geographic regions of the country — to bring this solution to our nation’s firefighters to provide increased protection while they perform this important task.”
In fall 2015, DHS S&T’s First Responders Group (FRG) requested proposals from vendors with rapid technology solutions to help solve critical capability gaps identified by first responders across the country. This is one of several related awards that FRG will announce in coming weeks and months.