Saving lives with emergency escape masks

Australian Mining talks to Safety and Defence Solutions owner Gila Davidson about Kimax, the latest design in chemical escape masks from Duram Mask.

Duram Mask has been manufacturing and providing escape masks to mining and other industries since 1989.

Duram products are available through Australian company Safety and Defence Solutions, based in Victoria.

Though escape masks share basic similarities with regular gas masks, their purpose is quite distinct, says Safety and Defence Solutions’ Gila Davidson.

“In contrast to regular gas masks, which are designed for everyday use, escape masks are lighter and designed with maximum portability and short-term protection in mind,” she says.

“This is so users can quickly reach for the mask and put it on in emergency situations. It can be equipped in under eight seconds, which is useful when time is of the essence.”

Safety and Defence Solutions serves several industries with its varied Duram product suite, including mining, oil and gas, science labs, federal police, the military (including the navy) and security.

The company supplies emergency breathing apparatus, safety gear and protective garments such as escape masks, smoke hoods, NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) suits, ballistics, night vision equipment and more, including new underwater night vision and more.

In the mining industry specifically, the company’s escape masks are the most relevant and popular of Safety and Defence Solution’s products. The company has worked with Shell Petroleum, BHP, Chevron and Rio Tinto in the mining and resources industry.

One of Duram’s notable products in this category is the new Kimax chemical escape mask, designed to protect against incidents such as gas leaks and chemical agents.

The masks are designed to be easy to remove from their pouches for quick access.

Designed to quickly afford the wearer a high degree of respiratory protection, the Kimax Escape Hood’s filtering system meets Class III PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements. The mask provides immediate respiratory protection in incidents involving high concentrations of chemical agents, allowing users to evacuate quickly and individually if required.

The mask is designed to be easy to put on, being a ‘one size fits all’ solution with no straps or adjustments required.

The filtering device is combined with a hood for complete coverage. Air enters the latex hood around the eye area through two attached particle and gas filters.

An interior silicon half-mask with two inhalation valves allows the filtered air to enter the nose and mouth area.

When exhaling, air passes out through a rubber exhalation valve. The exhaled air flows back directly to the ambient atmosphere via one rubber exhalation valve. An ETFE eyepiece also ensures good visibility and a strong, fire-resistant elastic rubber hood protects the entire head and seals comfortably at the neck.

Mining plays host to numerous possible respiratory hazards including cyanide, ammonia, chlorine, chemical fumes, gas leaks and coal dust particles. Polymeric chemicals, such as those used during the tailings process, are of particular concern in mining.

Emergency situations involving hazardous materials and highly toxic atmosphere are a real risk and while regular gas masks can protect, they are often bulky. Kimax hoods can be carried in a supplied pouch for easy access.

The mask has an approved filtering system that meets all requirements of Class III protective equipment.

“Lives have been saved due to this escape mask,” says Davidson.

“When first responders evacuate someone from a house, a fire in a hotel, or a chemical leak in a factory, many lives have been saved because of the gas mask.”

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Kimax can protect against organic gases with a boiling point higher than 65 Celsius, as well as several types of inorganic gas as well. Acidic and sulfuric gases, particles, ammonia and ammonia derivatives are likewise captured by Kimax’s filtration system.

The Kimax is approved to EN 14387: 2004 Standards. It also conforms to ABEK2 respiratory filter requirements, higher than the ABEK1 standard of its slightly lighter sister product, the Kimi model DM43 chemical escape mask (Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZ 1716).

Kimax also boasts a gas capacity challenge concentration of 5000 parts per million (5000ppm) across organic (A), inorganic (B), acidic (E) and ammonia (K) categories, five times the concentration of the Kimi mask’s 1000ppm ratings.

“Kimax is specifically designed for protection against high concentrations of chemical agents,” explains Davidson.

It is the premier product in Safety and Defence Solution’s line of escape masks, specially designed for high concentrations of chemical gases.

Other masks in the line apart from Kimax and Kimi include the pocket-sized Chembayo chem-bio escape mask; Maskito compact escape mask, for residential and commercial smoke- and gas-related emergencies; Cogo, for protection from smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) while escaping fires; and 4NE1, designed to be compact enough for firefighters to give to civilians during high-rise evacuations.

Duram masks possess a shelf life of five years when kept in optimal conditions in temperatures ranging from 15 Celsius to 40 Celsius.

“Safety and Defence Solutions has a long history of protecting people with its respirators and escape masks,” concludes Davidson. “We’ve been providing masks since 1997 and are always growing as a company with every product we bring out.”