Supplied air respirators guide - Selecting Supplied Air Respirators - Heavy respiratory protection during smoke

Supplied air respirators guide

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Supplied air respirators also known as heavy respiratory protection – designed for professionals.

When choosing a supplied air respirator, a good rule of thumb is to choose as much protection as necessary with as little strain as possible.
Download the documents and read this section to find out how to put this rule into practice. For example, you will learn how to find the right supplied air respirator for your needs and find frequently asked questions on this topic.

How flexible should air supply be?

Heavy respiratory protection pas airpack

Airline respirators

Cutting edge technology meets innovative materials: Our airline respirators are particularly well-suited for challenging activities that call for a reliable clean air supply for a long period of time.

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Heavy respiratory protection pas colt

Short-term self-contained breathing apparatuses

Versatile, user-friendly and equipped with the latest technology: Our self-contained breathing apparatuses for short-term use are ideal for use during brief activities and emergency rescue missions, mainly in the industry.

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Heavy respiratory protection quick connect

Long-term self-contained breathing apparatuses

Easy to use, comfortable to wear, lightweight and built to last, our long-term self-contained breathing apparatuses offer many benefits for a wide range of applications, from firefighting to rescue operations. They are suitable for use for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

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Choosing the right supplied air respirator system in four steps

Before choosing a self-contained breathing apparatus, ask yourself these four fundamental questions. This will make the decision-making process easier and help you to find the right system for your needs more quickly.

Selecting Supplied Air Respirators Step 1 - Analyse the task

Analyse the task

First, take some time to analyse the task in detail. Where and under what conditions will the work have to be carried out? The main considerations here are the concentration level of hazardous substances, occupational safety limits, oxygen levels and other special circumstances, such as any requirement to work in confined spaces. The key is to take appropriate protective measures based on the concentration levels of hazardous substances and the occupational safety limits that apply.

Selecting Supplied Air Respirators Step 2 - Determine the duration of use

Determine the duration of use

When selecting equipment, consider how much breathable air you will require throughout the period of use. Isolation devices with compressed air bottles can provide breathable air for up to 45 minutes. If you need to supply clean air for a longer period, you can use a hose system. This allows for a practically unlimited clean air supply. You should also remember that there are limits to how long a user can wear respiratory protection equipment, and that average air consumption can vary from one user to the next.

Selecting Supplied Air Respirators Step 3 - How much range of movement

Decide how much range of movement is needed

Is the job taking place in one location within a limited radius, or will the wearer need to switch between multiple, frequently changing locations? It is important to know this, because that will help you determine which type of air supply system you will need. If the range of movement is limited, a hose system is the best option. If the wearer needs more freedom to move, then a portable isolation device is ideal. Just remember that these systems always have a limited supply of air.

Selecting Supplied Air Respirators Step 4 - Which accessories

Determine which accessories you need

For some types of activities, workers will also need skin protection to prevent their bodies from being exposed to hazardous substances. This is very often the case in the chemical industry. In such cases, workers will need a hazmat suit in addition to the respiratory protection. The suit must be compatible with the respiratory protection equipment to avoid leaks and ensure workers can move comfortably and safely.

FAQ: Answers to the most common questions about supplied air respiratory protection

Compressed air tanks or hose systems?

What advantages do each of these systems offer? It all depends on the situation in which you will be using the system. Compressed air respirators allow total freedom of movement, but can provide only a limited volume of clean air, which restricts the amount of time for which they can be used. A hose system supplying pressurised air provides an unlimited amount of clean air to workers, but limits their range of movement. That makes them suitable for extensive maintenance or cleaning jobs taking place within a fixed area, especially if hazmat suits are being used, which can also be ventilated using the air supply system.

What are the legal requirements?

The legal requirements for using compressed air respirators as occupational safety equipment are defined by the EN 137 standard.

  • A pressure meter (manometer) is required which can easily be read by the wearer
  • An alarm system must be in place which is triggered if residual pressure reaches 55 +/- 5 bar
    EN 137-1 also contains regulations on industrial applications, while EN 137-2 provides additional requirements for firefighting purposes.

Which types of compressed air tanks are available?

Compressed air tanks are available with filling pressures ranging from 200 to 300 bar. The compressed air tank must be made of steel, aluminium or carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRP). CFRP tanks weigh the least, which makes them most comfortable to wear. The compressed air tank is also fitted with a cut-off valve. This is connected to the pressure reducer of the compressed air respirator.
To ensure proper functionality, it is important that the pressure never falls below 2 bar, so that moisture and foreign objects cannot penetrate inside the tank. Compressed air devices must be regularly cleaned.

What do the codes and labels mean?

According to the EN 1089-3 standard, compressed air tanks must include a plainly visible tank code which provides information about the contents of the tank and any possible hazards. For example, a black and white colouring on the shoulder of the tank indicates that this is a compressed air tank. The colour coding applies only to the tank shoulder. There are no restrictions on the colour of the outer coat.
The label must contain information about:

  • the composition of the gas mixture,
  • risk and security profile,
  • the UN code number and name of the gas,
  • the name of the gas manufacturer, as well as their address and telephone number.

How long can a compressed air respirator be used uninterrupted?

Depending on the type of compressed air respirator, it can be used for anywhere from around 10 minutes (short-term use) to 45 minutes (long-term use). Choose the right tank volume, pressure and volume of compressed air based on the conditions in which the system will be used. Another important factor influencing length of use is the individual user's air consumption.
For example, a compressed air tank with a volume of 3 litres (short-term use), a pressure of 200 bar and an air volume of around 600 litres contains enough air for about 15 minutes for a user who consumes air at a rate of 40 litres per minute.

How do I use a compressed-air hose unit?

Compressed-air hose units are not intended for portable use. They must be supplied with clean air from outside through a compressed-air supply hose, using either a permanently installed clean air line or clean air tanks.
There are three different types of hose unit systems:

  • Including a regulating valve: These systems provide a continual air flow, which results in a high air-consumption level. Application: for stationary air supply.
  • Including a normal-pressure lung demand valve: The clean air is only consumed during the inhalation cycle. Air consumption is low.
  • Including an overpressure lung demand valve: These systems produce overpressure of up to 5 mbar inside the breathing connection (for example, inside a full-face mask), so that hazardous substances from the ambient air cannot enter the mask. Application: for example, in atmospheres containing acutely toxic substances.

An overview of the components

Component overview compressed-air hose unit

A compressed-air hose unit consists of a breathing connection (full-face mask shown here), a dosage system (lung demand valve), a breathing hose and a body harness or carriage system (for example, the Dräger ABIL series). Finally, there’s a clean air supply – via external clean air distribution or compressed air tanks with pressure reducers.

Knowledge to go

Heavy respiratory protection handbook

Introduction to heavy respiratory protection

Our handbook can give you a well-structured summary about when to use heavy respiratory protection, the regulations that must be observed, selecting the right solution for your application and correct use of the equipment.

Download handbook

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Get in touch with Dräger

Contact us

Draeger Safety UK Ltd.

Ullswater Close, Blyth Riverside Business Park
Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 4RG

+44 (0) 1670 352 891

Call us from Mo - Thurs 8:30 - 17:00h
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Draeger Marine and Offshore

Unit E1, ABZ Business Park, International View,
Dyce, Aberdeen, AB21 0BJ

+44 (0) 1224 701 569