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NIOSH Respirators User Notice

Monday, December 2, 2013  Issue Date: November 27, 2013

From: Roland Berry Ann, Acting Chief, Technology Evaluation Branch, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory

Subject: Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) Testing for NIOSH CBRN Respirator Approvals

BACKGROUND: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) employs the Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Test Laboratory to conduct the Chemical Warfare Agent (CWA) testing portion of Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) testing. These services support the NIOSH respirator approvals providing CBRN protections.

On November 18, 2013, ECBC notified NIOSH of errors with some of its test data. ECBC’s internal assessment of these data indicates that concentrations of the CWAs used in testing were less than that required by NIOSH test procedures.a Testing conducted during the period of July 2012 through October 2013 is affected. The majority of the affected testing was conducted in support of NFPA 1981, 2013 edition approvals in process.

AFFECTED PROTECTIONS: NIOSH evaluations for granting approval for CBRN protection require a broad range of testing in order to ensure protection at the levels indicated on the approval labels.

The particular tests in question relate only to the ability of the respirator configurations to protect against CWAs. The affected respirator configurations will provide all of the non-CBRN protections for which the NIOSH approvals are issued. The non-CBRN protections are verified by NIOSH-conducted tests and evaluations. These NIOSH-conducted tests have not been compromised by the errors discovered in the CWA testing.

However, the affected respirator configurations MUST NOT BE USED TO PROVIDE PROTECTION AGAINST CWA HAZARDS until retesting has verified that these protections are provided.


On November 22, 2013, NIOSH requested that manufacturers immediately stop labeling any affected respirator configurations as CBRN approved, and notify customers who may have purchased the affected respirator configurations.

These testing errors adversely affect pending and/or completed approvals conducted for Avon, Draeger, Immediate Response Technologies, MSA, and Scott Safety. Since receiving the approval, Scott Safety has delivered respirator configurations affected by these testing errors.

Their Technical Bulletin, Scott Safety End User Notification: NIOSH CBRN Testing will be available at:
Scott Technical Support: 1-800-247-7257 or 1-800-AIR-PAKS

Scott Safety will notify you within the next ten business days if you have been identified as having affected respirator configurations. IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT about whether your respirator configuration is affected, please contact Scott Safety immediately.


NIOSH met with ECBC on November 19, 2013 to discuss the impact of the errors on current and pending NIOSH CBRN respirator approvals. As a result, ECBC has temporarily halted operations and, in agreement with NIOSH, will validate all test procedures before resuming operations. CWA re-testing at ECBC of all respirators previously submitted for approval for which CWA testing was conducted during the July 2012 through October 2013 period is expected to resume with an expedited schedule by January 2014 and be completed by April 1, 2014.

NIOSH and ECBC regret the impacts of this situation. Both NIOSH and ECBC are committing additional resources to increase testing capacity to expedite the re-testing schedule as much as feasible. We are working together to resume ECBC operations as quickly as possible and to incorporate additional checks and balances to ensure that this situation will not be repeated.

In addition to continuing to work with ECBC to complete CWA testing and coordinate with Safety Equipment Institute to issue CBRN SCBA approvals as expeditiously as possible, NIOSH is:

1.       Working with all five affected manufacturers to expedite identification and NIOSH receipt of appropriate configurations to be re-tested and expedite resolution of the current issues,

2.      Working with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to mitigate the impact of these delays in completing NFPA 1981, 2013 Edition approvals and to enable NFPA to take appropriate actions, and

3.      Working with the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency– Assistance to Firefighter Grant Program Office to discuss the need to extend the availability of the funds for equipment grants.

NIOSH will keep all interested parties informed until this matter is resolved.


aURLs for the NIOSH Standard Testing Procedures for the chemical warfare agent tests conducted on CBRN respirators, both air-purifying and atmosphere-supplying.







Tuesday, May 15, 2012 

Recently we were made aware of some SCBA Paks that were becoming frequent flyers to the Repair Shop for air leak issues. The air leaks were occurring at the point where the bottle and the air-pak come together. The air leaks would occur upon initial charging of the air-pak and unfortunately could test out perfectly fine under pressure on the morning inspection and then leak upon the next actual use when initially charged. Several paks had been sent in with leaks. A damaged or broken o-ring was found to be the cause of the leak in each case. The paks had been repaired and sent back into service only to reappear several days later with the same problem. The Repair Shop investigated further, pulling the SCBA bottles for further inspection from one of the houses having a great deal of these frequent leak issues. After examining the probes on the SCBA bottle, the Repair Shop along with representatives from Scott determined that there was a high likelihood that there isn’t a problem with the o-rings being used but rather the wear and tear on the bottle probes was actually tearing up the o-rings very quickly. All of the first line bottles from that house have had the bottle probes replaced with brand new probes. They’ve been in service for about a week now with no further o-ring issues so hopefully we’ve gone down the road of finding the correct solution. A little more time is probably warranted to make certain.
Going forward, and since this appears to be a new issue even for Scott, we will need increased diligence on the part of both the firefighter and the Repair Shop in addressing this issue. 
On the Repair Shop side, we’ll need to increase our awareness when we get air-paks coming in for repairs that have damaged o-rings. It will serve as an indicator that the bottle may actually be to blame. Especially if it is a repeat repair on the same pack or if we’ve seen multiple paks from a single company it will be an indication for us to pull all the bottles from that company and do thorough probe inspections/replacements. Additional diligence will have to come from the Repair Shop as we cycle bottles through here for hydro-testing. That will be the ideal time for a very thorough inspection of the area of the probe that is wearing and will warrant a replacement
On the fire house side, crews will need to also clean and inspect the interior surfaces of the bottle probe. Cleaning will be the easiest, most effective, and preventative part of that equation because trying to find and identify the galling and scoring of the stainless steel probe interior surface with the naked eye is somewhat difficult. Cleaning is accomplished by wiping out the inside of the probe with a Q-tip dipped in soapy water, follow by a wipe with the dry end, followed by blowing out any residue by cracking the bottle and free flowing some air. We’re seeing that these probes are collecting quite a bit of dirt in the course of normal use which is likely contributing to the overall wear.

First let’s start with the o-ring. Here is a photo of a new o-ring versus two that have been extremely worn.

The photo below shows the o-ring location after some air-pak disassembly has been done. The o-ring sits on a post in the air-pak and is not a field serviceable item by the members.
The photo below indicates the tapered area of the probe which is there to assist in the alignment of the post o-ring and the probe, and also the actual straight cut o-ring seating area. This seating area is where we identified some substantial scoring and galling on the units that had repeatedly failed.

The last photo shows another area that can receive some damage during day to day operations.
If the bottle is forcefully held out of alignment during installation of the bottle into the air-pak, a jagged lip on the internal edge of this face can possibly contact and damage the post o-ring. So try and be reasonably aligned before slamming a bottle home into the air-pak.






Tuesday, October 18, 2011  These pictures are from renovations/upgrading of the PATCO city hall station in Camden City, NJ.
Concrete fills in the exit however the steps still exist.
This can cause a major problem during evacuations.
Firefighters will run into major issues with searches. Problems would also exist due to fire, or terrorist attack circumstances.





Physical and Personnel Security

Saturday, October 1, 2011  In the past few days, the Emergency Management and Response—Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) observed that fire and police stations were attacked by gun fire. Although no one was injured, these incidents raise concern about physical and personnel security at facilities occupied by emergency responder departments and agencies. 
To address this concern, the EMR-ISAC examined various sources to identify the basic measures of a time-efficient, cost-effective, and common-sense approach to bolster security in and around first responder stations. The following is a summary of preventive actions for the consideration of Emergency Services Sector leaders responsible for personnel and any type of physical location: 

  • Inspect randomly the security and condition of all facilities and storage areas.
  • Keep all doors and windows closed and locked as much as practicable.
  • Use appropriate locking systems for all station access points.
  • Obtain a monitored intrusion detection system for locations not always occupied and in regular use.
  • Prohibit sharing security codes or combinations with unauthorized persons.
  • Change security codes or combinations at frequent intervals.
  • Guarantee vehicles, apparatus, and equipment at exterior sites are always locked when unattended.
  • Initiate and enforce a reliable identification system for department personnel and property.
  • Screen all visitors and vendors and deny entry to anyone who refuses inspection.
  • Develop inspection practices for incoming deliveries including postal packages and mail.
  • Require personnel within the station to be vigilant for unauthorized persons and unusual activities.
  • Prepare and enforce an SOP containing physical and personnel security measures at facilities. 
For more information, see the Five Step Process and the crucial principles (deterrence, detection, delay, response, recovery, and re-assessment) at the Integrated Physical Security Handbook. Another pertinent source is the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets (PDF, 1.3 Mb)





PFN Video

Tuesday, September 27, 2011  At 2106 hours E61 was dispatched to the McDonalds Restaurant at 3323 North 24th Street for a fall injury. E61 found the patient, who was a McDonald’s employee, at the top of a stairwell that leads to the basement storage area. E61 began the regular line of questioning and treatment for what seemed to be a standard medical call. The patient was a 24 YOF who was pregnant. The patient stated that she was going into the basement to check on something and became lightheaded and fell. One of the other employees heard the fall and went to the stairwell to help the patient. Both employees exited the stairwell and called 911 to report the “fall injury”. As the Captain from E61 was questioning the patient and one FF was checking vitals, the other FF and the Engineer went into the basement to see if the patient had tripped or slipped on something. Shortly after entering the basement both members of E61 became lightheaded and exited the basement. Upon exiting the basement, the Engineer fell and both members reported dizziness and a bitter taste in their mouths. E61’s Captain immediately called for a Hazardous Assignment and evacuated everyone out of the building.

At 2117 hours the Haz Assignment was dispatched. One thing to note was that the PTI on the MCT still only had the info from the initial fall injury. I’m not sure how this could have been fixed, but updated PTI would have been helpful enroute. BC2 assumed command and assigned E4 to Haz Sector. E4 and Squad 8 made entry into the building in turnouts and SCBAs. The goal of the entry was to meter the basement for what was suspected to be a Co2 leak. The manager of the restaurant told the crews that they had just had the Co2 tank filled a couple of hours prior
to the call. The crews made entry with 2 CGI meters and 2 Gas Ranger meters. As the crews descended the basement stairwell they started to get decreased O2 readings and slightly increased VoC readings on the CGI meters. As the crews continued into the basement the O2 readings continued to decrease (the lowest reading was 17.5%). One of the many interesting things about this call was the readings the crews were getting on the Gas Rangers. The Rangers were reading 100% LEL. When switched to % gas the readings were 25%. The readings were obtained at ground level and at ceiling level. These reading prompted Haz Sector to exit the building and start to mitigate the potential hazards. They shut off the gas at the meter and attempted to shut down the power from the exterior.
It was determined that another entry was necessary to shut off the power to the building, and investigate the Co2 tank. Haz Sector made a second entry into the building and secured the power to the building while monitoring the air to assure there was no risk of a spark causing ignition. Haz Sector then re‐entered the basement to investigate the Co2 tank. They found a broken line on the tank and were able to shut down the tank to mitigate the hazard. After exiting the building, Haz Sector made a plan to ventilate the building. A confined space fan and flexible ducting were used off of SQ8. This method of ventilation was chosen due to the heavier than air gas in a below grade location. The ventilation was complete after about 30 minutes.
Haz Sector did a final entry and obtained Zero readings on all the meters.
A few things to note about this call:
‐ The 2 members off of E61 were transported to the hospital for further evaluation. This can truly be deemed a “near miss”
‐ Statistics say that the majority of fatalities in these situations are would be
‐ Jeff Zientek will contact the manufacturer of our Gas Rangers to inquire about
the Co2 readings on what is supposed to be a natural gas specific meter
‐ Jeff will also check to see if we can use our Manning meters with the sensors
we have, and do a conversion for Co2
‐ The on-site Co2 monitors at the restaurant didn’t function
‐ Some McDonalds locations have basements
‐ The gas hot water heater was located in the basement so the potential for a gas
leak and source of ignition existed
‐ The ventilation profile was difficult because of a heavier than air gas in a
‐ SWG initial responder had to be told more than once to exit the hot zone (hot
zone mgmt. is challenging on such a large scale scene)

The total FD response to the incident included:
E61, BC2, SQ8, E4, L4, HM4, L9, E9, R9, E5, E11, R11 C957N&S, SDC, NDC, PI3, C959, C99, R17,
and U29.
E61 did a great job of identifying the hazard, evacuating the building, and calling for the appropriate response. Crews did a great job of investigating and mitigating the hazard.
****Always suspect a potentially toxic environment when responding to any restaurant,
convenience store, or any structure that has these systems in place…especially in basement





TGI Beams used as Roof Trusses

Monday, September 26, 2011  This is a church under construction.

In the photos you can see the use of TGI Beams used as trusses. It is the first time that I have seen them used in this application. We have become accustomed to seeing them used as floor joists, but I have not seen them used as unprotected roof trusses.

Is it any wonder why Church fires kill firefighters? Remember: The Occupancy Type coupled with the Time of Day make up the Life Hazard. WHEN it falls, don’t be under it.






Wednesday, June 29, 2011  A medic woke up during the night with diarrhea and low and behold, the station was full of carbon monoxide. The heater was cycling on and off to try and get rid of humidity and some how pumped the building full of CO. The CO detector was designed to chirp at 40ppm, but not to go into alarm until 400ppm. The alarm was chirping when the medic woke up, so it was obviously somewhere in that range. The entire shift (5 personnel) ended up being transported to the hospital to be checked out.
LESSONS LEARNED: Just because we are emergency personnel, doesn't mean we are immune to emergencies! Make sure you have working detectors in your station and make sure they are set at good levels! My department had a CO incident 6-8 months ago as well. The CO alarm at Station 1 was sounding, so the dorm resident had the FD duty officer come check it out. Sure enough, CO levels were high. It was due to a combination of an ambulance left running and heater issues. After this incident, CO detectors were purchased and placed in all 4 of our stations.





Wednesday, May 25, 2011  Thanks to for sharing this CloseCall with us:

As a firefighter, proper knowledge of your SCBA is necessary to help provide a safe working environment. We as firefighters should be familiar with every square inch of our LIFELINE. If you do not properly check your SCBA's you will be inviting a dangerous situation upon yourself and your fellow brothers and sisters on the front lines with you. The fireground is not the time to find an overlooked mistake. Making sure your SCBA is in proper working condition is a part of being a good firefighter. Proper inspection of your SCBA should include you checking the overall condition of the pak. That means making sure all the straps, hoses harness and regulator are all in good shape. It also includes checking your gauges and making sure there is plenty of the good stuff ("Air ain't no big thing, til you ain't got none" -fellow brothers words), activate your pass device and make sure it is in good working condition, always check the facepiece for cleanliness and a good fit, and make sure the buckles are in proper working condition. And don't forget to check your by-pass valve. This comes natural to great firefighters, but we need to remember the steps and constantly make sure our pak is ready to go.

Trust me SCBA checks pay off! Here are some photos I took after my inspection and finding something disturbing. You can call this a "Close Call" or you can say it would have been found before becoming a close call. Let me remind you this did not happen by throwing a hot pak back on the engine. 

Apparently the protective coating over the wires inside the braided stainless steel wire was exposed at the bend near the top left shoulder. The line was heated, heating up the air line running to the gauge as well. I found the left shoulder strap to be melted to our dri-deck material in the compartment. After I opened the cylinder there was no air leakage, but I went to moving the exposed wire and found the air hose melted which could've made for a bad day for a fellow firefighter or myself. I consider this a close call because if we would've had a structure fire the night before my inspection someone might've overlooked what I found and continued on. 

Scott has been notified on the issue, and I will be sharing this with numerous fire service brothers to get the word out. If you have any information on past events or similar finding please contact me via e-mail at







Monday, May 2, 2011  Some Brain Surgeon thought it was a good idea to run wires UNDER the FIRE ESCAPE!!!





UPDATE: Firefighter Glove Manufacturer Closes Their Doors Without Warning Following Firefighter Glove Safety Notice Related To Hand Burns (The Glove Corporation/Blaze Fighter FF Glove)

Thursday, February 3, 2011  The oldest Heber Springs (Alabama) manufacturing company has sadly shut down after being there 59 years following significant safety issues and burns related to their gloves. The now out of business Glove Corporation manufactured about 10 different types of firefighting gloves and closed it's doors Monday night. When workers came in on Tuesday, they found a note on the front door telling them they no longer had a job. About 65 people were directly affected. The Gov. Work task force is helping to relocate those without jobs in other industries, as well as provide other assistance.
Thursday, January 27, 2011 The Glove Corp issued a Safety Notice regarding its "Blaze Fighter" firefighting glove but then went out of business.  The Blaze Fighter is currently certified to NFPA 1971-2007 HOWEVER during recent testing, one style of gloves encountered issues with the performance of the conductive heat resistance test. The back of the hand area of the glove did not meet the prescribed performance threshold, as outlined in Section 7.7.5 of the NFPA 1971-2007 Standard. The Blaze Fighter style exhibited issues with test values that were below the minimum performance requirements.

The Blaze Fighter meets the Thermal Protection Performance (TPP) and flame resistance requirements and all other applicable performance requirements of the NFPA 1971-2007 Standard. These gloves were produced from December 2009 through December 2010. The label in the glove will indicate the manufacture date with lot numbers of 12109 through 12310.

While the majority of these gloves have performed satisfactorily in the field, The Glove Corporation has received reported cases of back of hand burns with a few pairs of this glove model.




Blaze Fighter Glove - Notice of non-conformance to a portion of NFPA 1971-2007

Thursday, January 27, 2011  The Glove Corp has issued a Safety Notice regarding its "Blaze Fighter" firefighting glove.  The Blaze Fighter is currently certified to NFPA 1971-2007.  During recent testing, one style of gloves encountered issues with the performance of the conductive heat resistance test. The back of the hand area of the glove did not meet the prescribed performance threshold, as outlined in Section 7.7.5 of the NFPA 1971-2007 Standard. The Blaze Fighter style exhibited issues with test values that were below the minimum performance requirements.

The Blaze Fighter meets the Thermal Protection Performance (TPP) and flame resistance requirements and all other applicable performance requirements of the NFPA 1971-2007 Standard. These gloves were produced from December 2009 through December 2010. The label in the glove will indicate the manufacture date with lot numbers of 12109 through 12310.
While the majority of these gloves have performed satisfactorily in the field, The Glove Corporation has received reported cases of back of hand burns with a few pairs of this glove model. The Glove Corporation is recommending that you use the contact information below to discuss possible replacement of your model Blaze Fighter glove that was manufactured within the timeframe referenced above.

View the Original Safety Notice





Wednesday, January 12, 2011  There are currently some aftermarket SCBA bottle makers selling spare or replacement bottles. Purchase of these bottles though leads to the SCBA ensamble not being NIOSH approved. Entire warning document attached.  





Tuesday, November 23, 2010  Ok, so as I am driving around on appointments today I passed this building.... and see a building... Inside this building being built.

In picture 1 you can see the building inside, #2 is a close up, and #3 shows the basement sliding glass door still existent in the photo.

This is in an urban area that has strict building codes. Allowing construction methods as such make you wonder, and really wake to be mindful of the crazy shit you can run into.






Friday, October 29, 2010  WARNING: This is the "shake and bake" portable meth lab. The problem is not only the real possibility of exploding, but once they are done, they throw the bottle out (usually out of a car window) and it become a toxic hazmat event when eventually found. 

The bottom contains sodium chrystals, the fluid is muriatic acid, and the metal is lithium. The mixture is extremely volatile and may be explosive. This may be found in common vehicles driving around so that fumes may be dissipated and not associated with a particular address.





Gear Oil Failures in Wind-Generators

Thursday, October 14, 2010  Here are some photos of what happens when transmission failures occur in

To date no gear oil has been invented to withstand the pressures produced
within these Transmissions. Most recently, the government gave Dow-Corning a big grant
to work on it.Previously, many others had tried and failed.





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