Fire masks aid asthma sufferers

A FIRE-safe mask that has been developed and produced in Bendigo will be included in the Asthma Foundation of Victoria's fire emergency kit.

The kit will be available online on Tuesday and will include the mask and information - families will simply need to add the asthma sufferer's medication to the kit.

Bendigo invention in fire kits

The CSIRO tested it and passed it at international standards - Mike Taylor

"The idea is to have an emergency kit that can be used at schools and childcare centres," Asthma Foundation chief executive Robin Ould said.

"We are encouraging families to take the kit with them as part of the process of preparing for bushfires."

Mr Ould said studies by the CSIRO have supported the Fair Air Fire Mask, which is re-usable and able to be washed.

"Wood smoke is a big contributor to asthma attacks," Mr Ould said.

"We work closely with the Environment and Primary Industries to notify people of planned burning or intentions to burn."

"Our own investigation as well as other tests showed it is also very good for people with stubble (or beards) as the mask still maintains a proper seal."

Bendigo innovator Mike Taylor developed the current issue of mask about three years ago.

He wanted to develop a highly fire-resistant mask that was disposable.

"When I started as a volunteer firefighter in the ACT I found that disposable masks are made of synthetic material which is dangerous."

"The material (in my masks) is quite different, there are four layers, two of which are needled alpaca material that is easy to breath through."

Mr Taylor's neighbour bought the masks to the attention of the Asthma Foundation of Victoria.

"Asthma sufferers are highly susceptible to smoke but with these masks (sufferers) are able to go outside if necessary and not just stick in the house," he said.

Mr Taylor said that individual fire brigades in New South Wales and Queensland were using the masks earlier this year while fighting fires in the Blue Mountains.

"Seven volunteers were hospitalised due to smoke inhalation," he said.

"Now more than 60 brigades in NSW and Queensland are using the masks."

The Asthma Foundation of Victoria's fire emergency kits are available from www.asthma.org.au

For more information on the Fair Air Fire Mask visit www.fairairmasks.com

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