What is a Fresh Air Respirator?

C.L. Rease

A fresh air respirator uses a pump and long air hose to provide the wearer with a constant supply of breathing air in situations where other respirator types would fail. This allows a wearer to work in conditions where particulate and chemical cartridge respirators would fail and cause the wearer physical harm or death. Every component of a fresh air respirator plays an important role of providing fresh air to the wearer. To ensure wearer safety, each component of a fresh air respirator needs to be inspected before use and the work area needs to be inspected to ensure the components of the system will not be damaged while the wearer performs his work.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The air pump sends air to the full-faced respirator, protecting the wearer from harmful chemicals in the air. Two filters attach to the sides of the pump body to provide a failsafe should one of the filters become chocked with dust or other loose debris. To provide the correct amount of air, the filters of the air pump require cleaning before and during use and replacement when damaged or excessively dirty. Cleaned filters need to dry thoroughly to avoid moisture entering the internal pump fan and causing the fan to bind. Connected to the outlet of an air pump is another component that requires thorough inspection to ensure wearer safety.

Attached to the air pump is a long air hose that carries the pressurized air to the inlet of the full-faced respirator worn by the person working in the hostile breathing environment. Inspecting the air hose before and in between uses ensures the air does not leak into the atmosphere before reaching the wearer. The majority of air hoses are made from heavy-spiraled wire surrounded by a heavy flexible rubber coating. Puncturing the heavy rubber is difficult, but possible, when sharp or heavy objects encounter the hose. One last component requires inspection and is the most important part of a fresh air respirator.

Worn by the person performing work in a hostile environment, the hood of a fresh air respirator holds fresh air around the wearer's face while working. Unlike the heavy construction of the air hose, the hood is made of lightweight material to ensure the comfort of the wearer. Inspecting the hood before each use ensures the wearer has an adequate supply of fresh air and can see clearly through the protective lens.

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