In an Operational Brief issued by Corporate Communications, NSW Rural Fire Service advice was offered for members about crowdfunding for respiratory protection masks.
Rob Rogers AFSM, the Deputy Commissioner advised that "As the firefighting efforts across NSW continue, the NSW RFS has noted a number of crowd funding pages created to raise funds for equipment, firefighting apparel and personal protection equipment. "We are concerned that members may be establishing these without the appropriate authority of their Brigade and District Manager. "NSW RFS firefighters are provided all necessary tools and equipment to undertake their work. This includes fire appliances and associated hoses, nozzles, and all personal protection equipment including respiratory protection. "The cause promoted through some of these fundraising efforts has been to purchase P3 masks.
Above: The 3M Scott Fire & Safety Promask (P3) Single full face respirator provides comfort and protection against a wide variety of respiratory hazards . Image 3M Scott Fire & Safety "The NSW RFS provides disposable P2 fire resistant masks to members. This provides a practical solution for managing exposure to bush fire smoke, when taking into account other risks. Deputy Commissioner advised "The Service recently worked closely with Safe Work NSW to ensure our P2 fire resistant masks are fit for purpose considering heat generated particulate filtration, ergonomics, metabolic heat retention, breathing resistance and risks associated with maintenance and use of defective equipment. "A recent assessment review of P3 masks by the Australian Fire and Emergency Services Council (AFAC) in their Guideline Managing Bushfire Smoke Exposure 2018 notes that a P2 mask remains the most practical control, and that the half-face P3 mask provides a protection factor equivalent to a P2, however it doesn’t take into consideration factors identified such as maintaining a face seal, breathing resistance and maintenance. "For the Service to consider changing any of its provided firefighting equipment and apparel, we would require a full and comprehensive scientific research and evaluation process.
"A periodic review of personal protective equipment, which will include helmets, goggles, boots and face masks is scheduled for the end of the fire season," the Deputy Commissioner concluded