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  1. Science and Technology Directorate
  2. News Room
  3. S&T Seeks Respiratory Protection Suitable for Wildland Firefighting

News Release: DHS S&T Seeks Respiratory Protection Suitable for Wildland Firefighting

Release Date: February 4, 2022

S&T Public Affairs, 202-254-2385

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) released a request for information (RFI) seeking effective respiratory protection for wildland firefighters to be considered for inclusion in a market survey being conducted by S&T’s National Urban Security Technology Laboratory (NUSTL) in collaboration with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The labs are interested in air-purifying respirators (APRs) and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) that can guard against gases and particulates encountered during wildland fires. Applicants have until 4:00 PM EST, February 28, 2022 to submit their products.

“Wildland firefighters risk their lives to fire, but in many cases, they are also risking their lungs to short- and long-term health consequences,” said Hasan Shahid, NUSTL test engineer. “The respiratory protection used by structural firefighters is not suitable to a remote wildland firefighting environment. For example, self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) are impractical due to their large size and the need to have additional tanks nearby to swap out.”

DHS S&T has found that many wildland firefighters use a bandana or an N95 mask to keep their airways safe. Bandanas, however, offer very little protection against particulate matter and no protection against gases. And although N95 masks protect against more particulates, they do not protect against gases and can’t stand up to extreme environmental conditions. APRs and PAPRs offer respiratory protection that the National Fire Protection Association considers suitable for fighting wildland fires.

To be evaluated for the market study, respiratory protection products must meet certain criteria. The APR or PAPR must:

  • be readily available to emergency responder groups as a commercial or government-issued device;
  • accept gas filters or filtering cartridges;
  • guard against particulates;
  • be easily transported in or on load-carrying equipment;
  • be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in accordance with 42 CFR 84
  • be durable and decontaminate with 42 CFR 84, NFPA 1984, or MIL-STD-810G (PDF, 810 pgs., 23.9MB).
  • PAPRs must be powered by single-use batteries with a battery life of at least four hours continuous use or 16 hours at 25% duty cycle.

The market survey report – produced by NUSTL’s System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) program – will be posted to the SAVER Document Library on the S&T website, where the findings can be accessed by state, local, federal, tribal and territorial response agencies making procurement decisions about respiratory protective gear.

For more information on the RFI, visit https://sam.gov/opp/100cda3744be4f47b2c832010c784a92/view.

For more information on the SAVER program, visit www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/saver.


Last Updated: 10/18/2023
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