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First responders at the federal, state and local levels are on the front lines providing service, protection, and support to their communities. As first responders increasingly risk exposure to airborne respiratory hazards during emergency response, an increased focus on training and fit testing for respiratory protection is essential.
Until recently, respirator fit testing for first responders has focused heavily on SCBA masks for firefighters. However, this global pandemic has made clear the importance of fit testing other respirators like N95 filtering facepieces for EMTs, paramedics and firefighters.
Firefighters have long known the advantages of quantitative fit test instruments. Quantitative fit testing is required for respirators such as SCBAs that provide a fit factor higher than 100. These instruments take a numeric measurement of the fit to the wearer’s face and the protection provided by that respirator.
Qualitative methods can fit test filtering facepieces like N95s but not elastomeric respirators like SCBAs. Conversely, most quantitative instruments can fit test elastomeric respirators, but not N95 filtering facepiece respirators.
While quantitative instruments are more exacting, filtering facepieces like N95s are often fit tested with subjective and time-consuming qualitative methods that use Saccharin or Bitrex™ as a challenge agent. Sometimes, filtering facepieces like N95s are not fit tested at all.
A barrier to fit testing a wide variety of respirators for first responders is that most methods or instruments cannot test them all. Qualitative methods can fit test filtering facepieces like N95s but not elastomeric respirators like SCBAs. Conversely, most quantitative instruments can fit test elastomeric respirators, but not N95 filtering facepiece respirators.
The ability to fit test all respirators with one instrument is what makes PortaCount® Respiratory Fit Testers (models 8048 and 8038) so unique. The PortaCount® Respirator Fit Tester is the only instrument that works for any type or brand of respirator, from SCBAs to any N95 filtering facepiece.
Not only can PortaCount instruments provide the same exacting fit test for all respirators, it can do it consistently faster than any other method or instrument at less than 2½ minutes per fit test.
First responders, it’s time to simplify your respirator fit test program with one consistent, objective, and automated testing experience for all respirators.