Breathing smoke

October 4, 2020   |   6:09 a.m. PDT


Photographers at a wildland fire may be able to use and tolerate a mask that traps 95 percent of the 0.3 micron particulates in smoke, but the devices are not practical for firefighters. (see photo above)

In case you are wondering, masks and respirators are divided into rating classes: N is not oil resistant, R is oil resistant, and P is oil proof. The number, such as 95, refers to the percent of particles removed that are at least 0.3 microns in diameter.

Be careful out there.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “Breathing smoke”

    1. I’m sure. That’s why they force us out at 57. You should look up the stats on how quickly retired forestry techs die after retirement. Between cancer, lung and heart problems from breathing smoke, dirt, and crushed rock (read crystalline silicosis) many don’t make it long. Also check into how many are forced out right before retirement when their bodies (usually backs or knees) give out and they get kicked to the curb.

  1. Rumor has it (supposedly qualified sources) that some N95 masks (stopping particles as small as 0.3 to 0.1 microns as tested after use) made in China, even though they may be effective have other defects and are expensive. They should not cost more than three dollars each. Before the pandemic, they could be bought for $0.75.

    Where can certified masks be found?

  2. N 95 masks are made in the US and have passed rigorous testing, according to National Jewish Health. K 95 masks are made in China and are not tested here.


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