Process for Use

The Columbia Richland Fire Rescue Department has created a short video showing the trailer they have built and a quick walk through of their process for use. This video was made April 20, 2020.

Below the video, you can download their written procedures and a helpful infographic showing the 16-step process that captures a mask’s complete cycle from being collected “dirty” from a first responder to being delivered back to that same first responder “clean.” The written procedures are also posted below the download links.

Directive: 2020-AFCO-04 – N95 Decontamination Procedures

Date: 04-17-2020

This purpose of this document is to explain the procedure of the N95 respirator decontamination process.  The goal of this program is to build up a strategic supply of N95 respirators for the department should we exhaust our existing supply before we receive additional supplies. 

This document is meant to serve as a continuation of Directive:2020-AFCO-02, and provide further explanation of the N95 respirator decontamination process.  

COVID-19 PPE Re-Use Procedure

Reusable personal protective equipment

With proper preventative and disinfectant procedures, the following items are considered to be reusable during the national PPE shortage:

  • Medical Face Shields (to be decontaminated after each use)
  • N95 respirators
  • Surgical masks
  • Eye protection (to be decontaminated after each use)

 When to discard respirators

  • Discard N95 respirators following aerosol generating procedures such as using a BVM.
  • Discard N95 respirators contaminated with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions, or other bodily fluids from patients.
  • Discard N95 respirators, when not covered by a medical face shield, following close contact with any patient suspected of being a COVID 19 symptomatic patient (as defined in Directive 2020-AFCO -02).

Decontamination Process for N95 Respirators

  • The decontamination process for N95 respirators only applies to those respirators that did not qualify to be discarded according to the aforementioned information.
  • During Recruit School, the process may be different and will be directed by the Chief of Training
  • At the end of the shift, personnel will write (in pen only) their name, shift, and station on the bottom side of the N95 respirators (if someone is assigned to the float pool, that should be indicated for their station designation)
  • All personnel will take used N95 respirators and place them into the bin labeled “Dirty N95 Respirators” no later than the end of their shift and attach a piece of Fire-Line scene tape to the handle and notify their Battalion Chief their bin is ready for disposal
  • Battalion Chiefs will notify the Logistics Chief of which stations need their bins emptied
  • Designated personnel will transport all respirators from the shift prior, to Station 3 and place them in the designated location behind the station where the decontamination trailer is set up
  • The following steps will entail the actual decontamination
    • Two HazMat Techs (identified as Tech A and Tech B) will don a pre-identified Level B suit with UV protection glasses
    • Tech A will operate the dirty side and Tech B will operate the clean side of the decontamination trailer
    • Tech B will load the collection buckets to the doorway of the trailer (warm zone) on the exterior side of the trailer
    • Tech A will retrieve the bucket from doorway and bring inside the trailer (hot zone)
    • Tech A will remove and inspect the “dirty” respirators from the bucket and place them on the drying rack
    • After the 24-hour period Tech A will remove the respirators from the drying rack and place the respirators in the decontamination rack
    • The respirators will receive a 5-minute dose of UV (no personnel will be authorized in trailer during dosing)
    • Tech B will remove the respirators from the rack and mark with a tally (after 5 tally marks, the respirators shall be discarded)
    • Tech B will receive and place the respirators in a brown paper bag and will write the name, shift and station on the exterior of the bag
    • Tech B will fold the top of each bag and place them in the appropriate clean tote
    • Log book will be annotated with Name of respirator, date cleaned, and number of times “cleaned” tallies on the respirator
    • Designated personnel will retrieve the clean tote and coordinate to have the PPE return to the proper location for assigned personnel  
  • On duty Division Chief will coordinate with Logistics, Battalion Chiefs, or any other personnel designated to assist with the project to ensure that cleaned respirators will be returned to appropriate stations