Tinonee RFS receives donation of Sundstrom SR100 half-face respirators

Roger Scott, captain Russell Coe and Bruce Annetts of Tinonee Fire Brigade taking delivery of the donated masks. Photo supplied
Roger Scott, captain Russell Coe and Bruce Annetts of Tinonee Fire Brigade taking delivery of the donated masks. Photo supplied

Tinonee Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigade members can breathe a little easier thanks to a donation of new face masks.

The respirators are a big step up in lung and airway protection for the brigade, as previously they had to make do with the disposable P2 masks supplied by the NSW RFS.

"They say they are sufficient but it's a bit hard when you're actually on the fire ground and breathing in that smoke. These other masks are a lot better," said brigade captain Russell Coe.

"Sometimes when a firefront comes through and we're protecting houses, it's so intense and it's so hot it's like breathing razor blades, and that's with the P2 masks on."

The new masks are Sundstrom SR100 half face respirators and each unit costs around $112.

The Tinonee brigade was gifted with 15 of the masks by cancer advocate Ophelia Haragli who runs a Facebook page called 'My Sisters Keeper'.

In response to the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis, Ophelia has been raising funds to buy and distribute the masks to volunteer fire brigades. She did her research, and found the Sundstrom respirator to be the most fit for purpose, being designed to filter out asbestos.

"We have got a couple of guys who bought their own masks before the fires and they swore by them. We did a bit of research into them and came up with this same mask," explained brigade secretary Sue Odgers.

Russell Coe says the brigade has also had great support from the manufacturers, who have supplied training material on how to use and look after the respirators.