FACIAL PROTECTION

Hot Shield® Wildland Firefighter Face Mask Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do we need this kind of protection?
  2. How does the Hot Shield Face Mask and housing protect me?
  3. Why not buy the "other guys" cheaper mask?
  4. Has the Hot Shield line up been independently tested?
  5. Do the Hot Shield masks, shrouds & housings meet NFPA requirements?
  6. Are any of the Hot Shield products respirators?
  7. Can the Hot Shield protect me from super heated air?
  8. Are the Hot Shield masks & shrouds compatible with all helmets? Can I use and existing shroud?
  9. Is the Hot Shield compatible with goggles?
  10. What is CarbonX?
  11. How does CarbonX make firefighters safe?
  12. How does CarbonX perform when exposed to direct flame?
  13. Will CarbonX keep a firefighter cooler? Is it comfortable to wear?
  14. Is CarbonX also good protection against other forms of heat?
  15. How is CarbonX different from Nomex?

Q. Why do we need this kind of protection?
A. Other devices, masks and standard issue helmet shrouds have proven to be inadequate against the flame, heat and smoke of wildland fires. The choice of poor PPE often results in inadequate air exchange, burned noses from shrouds that creep down and expose the nose, bandannas catching on fire, coughing up black phlegm for days after the fire, inflamed & irritated respiratory tracts due to the inhalation of smoke & ash particulate common to ALL outdoor fires. Many firefighters have been overrun by fast moving fires and have sustained severe burns to the face, neck and ears.

Q. How does the Hot Shield face mask and housing protect me?
A. In general, our products radically reduce the risk of burns to your face through the use of superior materials and our patented design that utilizes the proven science of insulating air space. The outer shell of every Hot Shield mask, shroud or respirator housing is made of super tough & extreme fire resistant CarbonX fabric. This revolutionary material will not burn, ignite, char, shrink or decompose at temperatures reaching and exceeding 2600 degrees Farenheit, even for extended periods of time. CarbonX accomplishes this with less weight than traditional PPE materials. The Hotshield Wildland Face Mask has saved the lives of at least 42 firefighters (documented) and has become a popular and standard part of PPE for many departments and firefighters.

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Q. Why not buy the "other guys" cheaper mask?
A. The old adage “You get what you pay for” remains true. The major components of the “other guys” gooey wet style filter & mask combo is made of petroleum based polyester and polystyrene foam! Do a little research of your own...perhaps ask your crew the following questions:

  1. When was the last time you or the Chief “spec’ed out” polyester fabric as a liner for PPE?
  2. Ask any reputable PPE manufacturer if they use polyester or styrene foam beads as a vapour barrier or liner in their firefighter clothing line?
  3. What is the melting point of polystyrene foam beads (what you find in a bean bag chair)? What is the melting point of polyester or Indura fabric?
  4. What happens to your lungs & throat when you inhale burning vapours of melting polyester and polystyrene foam?
  5. Would you like to breathe through a gooey, sticky, wet, “bean bag” style filter mashed up onto your mouth & nose?
  6. Do you have time to remove & re-install filters several times in a fire?

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Q. Has the Hot Shield line up been independently tested?
A. Yes, several different tests were conducted on the original versions of the Hotshield Wildland Face Mask. Those versions used a less protective, although still very good combination of Nomex and Kevlar fabrics. The mask was tested by now defunct Biotherm Labs in Dayton Ohio. The test was the RPP (Radiant Protective Performance) Test per NFPA Standard #1977 (Wildland Clothing Standard). The second test was the application of a 1000 degree F blowtorch with thermocouples (thermometers) placed outside and inside the mask. After 60 seconds of flame applied to the outside of the Hotshield Wildland Face Mask, the inside temperature had only reached 114 degrees F!. Storm King Mountain, makers of the most protective shelter tent & fire apparatus curtain in the world performed a open field burn test that proved the Hotshield could withstand severe temperatures outside and yet inside, the world of the firefighter was indeed very survivable. Now, with the use of CarbonX (since 2001), the Hot Shield line up of facial protection masks, housings and helmet shrouds are even more protective and lighter as well.

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Q. Do the Hot Shield masks, shrouds & housings meet NFPA requirements?
A. There are really two challenges wildland firefighters face: Respiratory tract protection   and burn protection (to the face/neck). As of 2008, NFPA has not yet decided on a standard for respiratory protection, yet are still working on developing a minimum standard. A minimum standard of thermal protection of PPE clothing materials is written into Standard #1977 but even FR cotton can meet the requirements. However, FR cotton is not going to keep you from burning. Do the math yourself.....what is your face worth to you?

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Q. Are any of the Hot Shield products respirators?
A. No, they are not. Respiratory relief is achieved differently for every model. The Hotshield Wildland Face Mask has an integral filter pocket that accommodates any low-level N-95 dry or wet particulate filter mask. Filters are sold separately and are steam activated carbon sandwiched by cotton media These filters do not become useless after being exposed to air, unlike the gooey wet filters the “other guys” sell. The Ultimate Bandanna uses a double layer of CarbonX knit mesh to block large airborne ash particles. The UNI-V2 Ultra Shroud Extreme uses the same concept but in a helmet shroud. The HS-4 and HS-5 are masks/housings that fit onto & around two popular well known brands of half face cartridge style respirators (Sundstrom SR-100 & Draeger Xplore 3500), protecting both the face & the respirator itself.

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Q. Can the Hot Shield protect me from super heated air?
A. No. Only a positive pressure breathing apparatus can do that! However, in an environment like wildland firefighting operations, where a SCBA is impossible or impractical, the only remaining option is a negative pressure filtration device combined with extreme heat protection....which is exactly what our products do.....and do very well.

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Q. Are the Hot Shield masks & shrouds compatible with all helmets? Can I use an existing shroud?
A. The Hot Shield Wildland Face Mask and Ultimate Banadana are “stand-alone” masks that do not interfere with any helmet. The basic standard shroud made of Nomex based fabric typically will not wrap completely over these models, but usually will wrap and fasten below the air exchange opening of the Hot Shield Face Mask and Ultimate Bandanna. We highly recommend the use of the Hotshield Ultra Shroud Extreme Helmet Shroud made of CarbonX, which will completely wrap around both the Hot Shield Wildland Face Mask and the Ultimate Bandanna, still allowing air exchange due to the two layers of CarbonX knit mesh at the mouth/nose area overlap of the Ultra Shroud. Our Extreme shroud is compatible with nearly every wildland helmet made in the world and we package it with a set of fasteners to accomplish this.

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Q. Is the Hot Shield compatible with goggles?
A. Low profile goggles with some type of foam work best. Any helmet will restrict the amount of available forehead area, which is where the upper portion of the goggle resides. Any type of face mask you choose must share the upper nose bridge of your face with your goggles, as this is a necessary anchor point for both. The BLAZER Quik-Connect Replacement Goggle Strap by Hot Shield USA replaces your existing goggle strap. The benefit is that the BLAZER uses a squeeze buckle (backpack style), allowing you to remove or don your goggle without having to remove your helmet.

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Q. What is CarbonX?
A. CarbonX is a comfortable, breathable, and durable fabric made with a combination of a proprietary and patented blend of partially carbonized fibres and modern strengthening fibres that provides unprecedented protection from heat and flame.

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Q. How does CarbonX make firefighters safe?
A. CarbonX provides a persistent protective barrier for firefighters exposed to extreme heat or flame. when exposed to direct flame, the material does not shrink or char. The fibres continue to carbonize, giving the firefighter time to get away from, or extinguish the flame.

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Q. How does CarbonX perform when exposed to direct flame?
A. When exposed to flame, CarbonX fibres expand, starving the fabric of oxygen thus eliminating the fuel to feed combustion within the fabric. The carbon based fibres then continue to carbonize to the core, distributing the heat energy, and increasing the amount of time before the heat passes through to the skin. This process gives the firefighter time to extinguish or get away from the flame.

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Q. Will CarbonX keep a firefighter cooler? Is it comfortable to wear?
A. CarbonX is highly breathable and absorbent. It will wick moisture from the skin, enabling it to evaporate, keeping the wearer cooler. It is very soft and can be comfortably worn next to the skin.

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Q. Is CarbonX also good protection against other forms of heat?
A. In addition to being almost impervious to direct flame, CarbonX provides protection from extreme sources of radiant or external heat. The heat energy is consumed by partially carbonized acrylic fibres that continue to carbonize when exposed to extreme heat.

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Q. How is CarbonX different from Nomex?
A. Nomex® by Du Pont is essentially a high temperature plastic that does not support combustion. When exposed to direct heat and flame, it shrinks and forms a hard char as a protective barrier. This char may protect a firefighter in a stationary position, but in a dynamic situation where extreme mobility is required. Nomex can separate, creating holes that allow dangerous exposure to heat and flame.

CarbonX is produced from a proprietary blend of partially carbonized acrylic and modern strengthening fibres. When exposed to direct flame, the material does not shrink or char. Instead, the fibres continue to carbonize, maintaining a protective yet flexible and non-compromised barrier, giving the wearer time to get away from or extinguish the flame. CarbonX is an exclusive patented product from Chapman Innovations, Salt Lake City, Utah and is proud to be associated with Hot Shield USA.

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