Wildland respirators

When you’re on these extended jobs and just living in the smoke how much damage are we doing to our bodies. These fires are blowing through all sorts of garbage, not just what Mother Nature created. Anyone tried using an scba or some sort of air purifier? Sometimes our crew will throw them on while doing structure protection but then refilling the cylinders is difficult. Tell me what’s worked for you. Not going to be enjoying retirement much if our lungs are shot! Right

It’s a difficult topic I my self was part of a Wildland respirator trial it was a full face with filters in the front worked great if you were not moving but 300 ft hose lay from the engine and you would be in a fish bowl and have to pull it off and drain it.
Definitely something to research to get a better system the old cotton bandana worked pretty good! but went out of fashion! LOL.


Around the 0:50 mark notice wildland gear with SCBA.

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If cal fire is using this tactic it’s definitely something we need to consider.

To my knowledge Cal Fire is not using that tactic. You would have to ask that engine company about their tactics on that.


My son was part of a research project by the forest service 8-10 years ago. They went around the country and were putting some kind of data collection device on the crews and then following through their fire assignments. He, with others did this around the country for at least 90 days. We never heard any results. Have no idea how bad it was. The data is in San Dimas or there abouts.

Stanford did a study on smoke exposure during the Fall 2020 CA Lighting siege. Some media colleagues sent in blood samples before during and after the fires, and there were elevated levels of toxic substances in the samples. The body cleared it after some time, but there is cumulative effect on the respiratory system from weeks in heavy smoke. Add in houses burning and all the chemicals that go up (treated lumber, composite siding, garage chemicals, etc) and it cannot be good for the body.

In 2021 Harvard basically said the smoke exposure added to the baseline mortality rate (adjusting for Covid, etc): Deadly link between wildfire smoke and COVID-19 | News | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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We do routinely use scba on wildland fires in very specific situations. I’m not aware of an actual policy that spells it out but you will see engines using them mopping up around involved structures, vehicles ,etc. I’m not aware of any use on normal hoselays or handline construction. You have to balance the risk and the work being performed. From the short video it’s seams like a perfectly appropriate use of the scba.

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Caution should be used when using a SCBA during structure defense. Read the Jesusita green sheet.

Pay close attention to FF54. He had his SCBA on over his web gear and could not grab his fire shelter when he needed it. Serious injuries.

One of the issues for review was,

USE OF BREATHING APPARATUS: Usage of breathing apparatus to conduct structure protection during a wildland fire, or to remain in an untenable environment, is a situation that requires further evaluation. When conditions are degraded to this extent, a structure should be considered indefensible and resources moved to a safe area. Personnel involved in structure protection must not use breathing apparatus to justify taking greater risks, but rather as a last-resort “survival tool” in case of entrapment.

My two cents…