“I don’t know all of the science behind it, but I like the comfort I gain with it while wearing it with bunker gear and a backpack to simulate wearing full gear. I can work on my breathing, and it also helps with the mindset of breathing while doing difficult techniques.”
Year to year most of the firefighter line of duty deaths are attributed to heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest due to stress and overexertion. Often through investigative reports, we learn that these deaths, and injuries, are due to poor physical fitness. Maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2, is the maximum amount of oxygen that a firefighter can utilize during intense work such as wearing SCBA and “on air,” wearing the facepiece and regulator. This VO2 measurement is the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. The more oxygen a person can use during high level exercise, the more energy a person can produce.
BlastMask allows a firefighter to train on VO2max without having to be “on air” with SCBA. This decreases wear and tear on SCBA, avoids having to refill SCBA bottles, and keeps the equipment ready for emergency use. The BlastMask regulator is made to function like the actual SCBA regulator with its spring latches and a bypass valve. The bypass valve works just like the one on SCBA, giving the user access to full air.
Another important feature of BlastMask is that it does not rely on a fire department fitness program to be used. Firefighter David Kaiser has been using BlastMask for three years now and uses it for everything in his workouts.
“I use it for functional fitness, and on certain cardio days with a stationary bike, and also on recovery with yoga,” said Kaiser. “I don’t know all of the science behind it, but I like the comfort I gain with it while wearing it with bunker gear and a backpack to simulate wearing full gear. I can work on my breathing, and it also helps with the mindset of breathing while doing difficult techniques.”
Kaiser added that another benefit of BlastMask is that it can help a firefighter overcome claustrophobic problems. “I had a probie who had some mask issues and working out with BlastMask helped them overcome those problems.”
Conditioning, physically and mentally, is a priority for firefighters in all aspects of training. Working in a simulated IDLH is not always obtainable, but with BlastMask a firefighter can simulate the effects of working in such an environment in ways that benefit him or her physically and mentally.