Waste operators completed the first entry into the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant toxic maintenance area wearing newly designed supplied-air and escape breathing apparatus units, Oct. 19.
“The units were designed as a replacement system for the Mine Safety Appliance EBA,” said Ty Wolske, systemization, operations and environmental specialist, PCAPP. “The MSA EBA packs have become obsolete and are no longer supported.”
The new system is more ergonomic than the former pack, and it has a three-part frame, which provides greater comfort for the wearer, Wolske said. The new design also provides a larger field of vision, and a head-up display that provides more information on the status of the entrants’ air supply for both line-supplied breathing air and the entrants’ bottled escape air.
“It operates at a higher pressure, with greater air flow, providing a greater volume of air for use as cooling, while still providing more than enough breathing air for the entrant to use during demanding toxic area entries,” said Wolske.
The transition to the new EBA units included replacing breathing air supply hoses and pressure control valves for regulating the air pressure to the supply air manifolds, and acquiring new demilitarization protective ensembles, among other tasks, said Wolske.
A team of specialists worked with a plastics engineering and manufacturing company to create a concept for the new pack, which was developed from scratch, tested, built and put into use quickly, Wolske said.
“The development, testing, logistics, training and fielding of the new system is a model for collaborating and teaming by PCAPP, the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program and the developer,” said Greg Mohrman, site project manager, PCAPP. “This culminated in a product that enhances worker safety and was immediately accepted by the users of the EBA, who also contributed to this successful project.”
The new packs were approved for use by the Department of the Army and were certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.