Masks can't be used: CFA

A PLAN for people to sponsor and thank a CFA volunteer by buying them a potentially life-saving mask has been delayed after the CFA said it could not allow brigades to use uncertified equipment.

Bendigo inventor and former volunteer firefighter Mike Taylor has spent years designing the reusable Fair Air mask that protects fireys from radiant heat and smoke inhalation.

Mr Taylor hoped to get central Victorian businesses to sponsor their local brigades to receive the mask, as he believed it was superior to the current respiratory protection available.

But a CFA spokesperson said yesterday equipment given to volunteers had to go through a “proper CFA evaluation process”.

“Personal protective equipment or clothing issued by CFA to our firefighters is required to be certified to the relevant Australian or International Standard and go through proper CFA evaluation process before being used on the fire ground,” the spokesperson said.

“In the case of critical respiratory protection, this includes trials in the field and facial fit testing as well as taking into account commercial considerations.”

Mr Taylor’s Fair Air mask has undergone testing by the CSIRO. 

The tests showed it provided an extremely high level of protection from radiant heat and filtered 98-100 per cent of even the smallest smoke particles.

A CFA spokesperson said the authority remained in “active discussions” with Mr Taylor about the Fair Air mask but believed the current protection afforded to its volunteers was adequate.

“While the CFA will continue to identify improvements wherever possible for the safety of our members, we continue to have confidence in the respiratory protection afforded by the certified equipment currently issued,” the spokesperson said.

Bendigo business Keech Castings had bought masks for the Strathfieldsaye brigade.

But a handover planned for this morning was cancelled. 

It is understood the CFA contacted the Strathfieldsaye brigade and said members were not allowed to wear the masks or they wouldn’t be insured.

Mr Taylor said Keech Castings was still keen to be involved.

“Keech are still buying the masks but they have asked me to hold them until the issue is sorted out with the CFA,” he said.

The Bendigo Advertiser received good feedback to yesterday’s story about a plan for people to support a CFA volunteer by sponsoring them a mask.

A reader called to say she could only afford one mask but she would like to buy that for a volunteer.

Another family who were all involved in the CFA called to buy masks, while other fire volunteers from Victoria and NSW also contacted the Bendigo Advertiser.

Mr Taylor said he was still happy to talk to any brigades or businesses that might want to get involved in the project.

“I’m a bit disappointed, but I think common sense will prevail in time,” he said.

Mike Taylor with his invention, Fair Air. Picture: Jim Aldersey

Mike Taylor with his invention, Fair Air. Picture: Jim Aldersey


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