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Workflow in a respiratory protective equipment workshop

Treatment of respiratory protective equipment

Personal safety precautions
this term refers to all the precautions taken by respiratory protective equipment technicians at work to protect them against contamination from internal sources (e.g. bacteria) and external sources (e.g. combustion by-products) on personal protective equipment. Information on the type of contamination can be obtained directly from the on-scene commander (e.g. what exactly burned in the fire?). This is the basis for choosing which personal safety precautions should be taken.

Let's begin with the workflow in a respiratory protective equipment workshop

1. Receipt

  • Delivery of contaminated full face masks and SCBAs in the dirty area – outside contaminated e.g. with fire smoke and soot. Contamination also occurs inside full face masks and SCBAs due to mask wearers' exhaled air, secretions, saliva, and flaking skin.
  • Risk of contamination faced by respiratory protective equipment technicians may require them to wear personal protective equipment depending on type of hazard
  • Prepare documentation for each piece of equipment
  • Used respiratory filters must be disposed of as hazardous waste or returned to their respective manufacturers

2. Preliminary clean

  • Heavily soiled equipment should be pre-cleaned by washing it off with clean water in the dirty area
  • Risk of contamination faced by respiratory protective equipment technicians may require them to wear personal protective equipment depending on type of hazard

3. Dismantling

In dirty area, separated into full face masks and SCBAs; respiratory protective equipment technicians may need to wear personal protective equipment depending on type of hazard; safety gloves required as a minimum:

  • Full face mask
    • Disassemble prior to washing in the machine. Follow manufacturer's instructions (instructions on use and maintenance)
    • Remove spectacle inserts and clean them separately
    • Place the disassembled components into the appropriate small part racks in the TopClean M to ensure they can be matched to the correct mask after washing
  • SCBA regulator
    • Detach the regulator's medium pressure connector from the complete medium pressure line
    • Follow instructions for use and maintenance stipulated by SCBA manufacturer after disassembly, then place the small parts in the small parts rack
    • Place items in the rack insert in the correct positions
    • Connect the medium pressure hose to the ring line on the TopClean M rack insert. Set connection to medium pressure when inserting rack to prevent ingress of detergents, rinsing fluids and disinfectants
  • SCBA with pneumatics assembly
    • Seal pneumatics assembly (e.g. pressure regulator, manual connector for compressed air cylinder and safety valve) in accordance with manufacturer's instructions
    • Secure SCBA harness in rack

4. Closed-loop cleaning + disinfection

Insert the parts & load the rack
Atemschutzteile in den Korb des Reinigungs- und Desinfektionsgeräts legen
Insert the loaded rack
Korb in das Desinfektions- und Reinigungsgerät TopClean M schieben
Start disinfection program
Tür des Reinigungsgerätes schließen und Desinfektionsprogramm starten
Remove disinfected equipment
Desinfizierte Atemschutzausrüstung aus TopClean M entnehmen
  • Observe dirty/clean area separation:
    • Dirty area: insert loaded rack
    • Clean area: close TopClean M, start the  cleaning machine  running through selected programmes, open machine when finished and remove decontaminated respiratory protective equipment and its small disassembled parts
  • The mask cleaning machine  operates automatically. Depending on the selected program, it runs through a "thorough clean – rinse – disinfect – rinse" cycle or a "thorough clean – disinfect – rinse" cycle at +60° C
  • Clean, disinfect and rinse accessories such as mask cases
  • Respiratory protective equipment technician should wear safety gloves to protect the respiratory protective equipment during handling

5. Drying

  • Respiratory protective equipment technician should wear safety gloves to protect the respiratory protective equipment during handling
  • Remove cleaned, disinfected and rinsed respiratory protective equipment Equipment does not need to drip-dry thanks to the effect of the residual +60° C heat
  • Place respiratory protective equipment in drying cabinet while it is still warm from the residual heat
  • Dry at maximum temperature of +60° C

6. Reassemble, replace

  • Respiratory protective equipment technician should wear safety gloves to protect the respiratory protective equipment during handling
  • Replace SCBA components such as valve disks, exhalation valves, full face masks according to manufacturer's instructions for use and maintenance and vfdb guideline 0840 (previously 0804)
  • Assemble set according to manufacturer's instructions for use and maintenance

7. Maintenance, repair, inspection

  • Respiratory protective equipment technician should wear safety gloves to protect the respiratory protective equipment during handling
  • Repair as required, components that operate under high pressure such as pressure regulators should be repaired by experts (e.g. manufacturer)
  • Reassemble sets according to manufacturer's instructions for use and maintenance, guidelines on replacing parts, and vfdb guideline 0840 (previously 0804)
  • After carrying out a proper inspection, seal full face masks and separate regulators in plastic bags to maintain hygiene, ensure air can enter bags (e.g. by cutting off corners)
  • Regularly disinfect the test probes and work surfaces of the respiratory protective equipment workshop, disinfect gel probes as per manufacturer's instructions, keep regular documentation of completed disinfection processes

8. Fill cylinders

  • Fill breathing air cylinders at filling panel/rig (use of safety filling systems is preferable)
  • Ensure breathing air meets quality standards stipulated in DIN EN 12021, check and document on a regular basis
  • Filling speed for carbon composite compressed air cylinders: see manufacturer's specifications

9. Admin

Document all work carried out in respiratory protective equipment records, including when work was performed and by whom

10. Storage and issue of equipment

  • Store according to manufacturer's instructions for use and maintenance and vfdb guideline 0840 (previously 0804)
  • Where possible, seal full face masks in plastic wrap (making sure air can still enter the bag) and store them in mask cases
  • Storage conditions as per DIN 7716 and DIN ISO 8331 (Rubber products; requirements for storage, cleaning and maintenance)

Cleaning and disinfection of Respiratory Equipment - a Step-By-Step Process download