A team of equipment specialists helped to enhance the supplied-air subassembly and emergency escape breathing system worn by workers at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant when they learned the current manufacturer would no longer produce some of its components.
“Phasing out of the old system provided an opportunity to make custom modifications to the new pack,” said Marty Smith, personal protective equipment specialist, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives.
Smith said the ACWA team worked with a manufacturer to redesign a pack which would be compatible with the Demilitarization Protective Ensemble, a fully-encapsulated protective outer garment that operates at a positive pressure to assure total protection against inward leaks. The suit is worn by workers who make toxic area entries.
The redesigned pack includes an in-line carbon filter, which acts as a guard against the possibility of contamination entering the air supply line during air station changes and in the event of agent permeation of the supply hose. Additionally, the new pack has a longer lasting air cylinder, 30-minutes, as opposed to the former 10-minute system, said Larry Nielson, PPE specialist, ACWA.
The new system will be ready for use in November. It has the potential to reduce the overall number aborted missions inside toxic areas, which in turn, saves time and money, the specialists explained.
The updated design includes a head-up display with light-emitting diodes, or LED lighting. A solid green light indicates that the entrant is on tether air and cylinder air is above the alarm level. If tether air is lost and entrant is on cylinder air with pressure above alarm level, the display indicates blinking green. If cylinder air pressure falls below the alarm level, and the entrant remains on tether supply, it indicates solid red. Finally, the lights blink red if tether air is lost and cylinder air is below alarm level.
“One major difference between the new and old system is tether air is restored when a kinked hose is unkinked; whereas, the old system would not reset when tether air was restored,” said Nielson.