Lincoln Weapons Dept. Completes Respirator Fit Test

Story Number: NNS060905-18Release Date: 9/5/2006 8:11:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Leah Quinton, Northwest Region Fleet Public Affairs

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors from the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) weapons department completed their respirator fit test Aug. 31 at the Naval Station Everett safety office.

"The respirator fit test allows us to make sure that the mask will protect the employee properly," said Bill Higgins, Naval Station (NAVSTA) Everett safety officer. "Today, we are doing a quantitative fit test. The respirator is hooked up to a machine that measures the particles in the air through a blue tube and the particles in the mask through a clear tube. The data is sent to the computer so we can tell if the seal breaks at any point during the test."

Each Sailor completes a series of 10 exercises during the test. If they make it all the way through each exercise without breaking the seal on their mask, they are marked off for meeting the station's annual requirement. If they don't pass, they must retake the test with a different size respirator.

The only way the machine will pass a person is if there is a 100 percent reduction in the dust particles from outside to inside the mask throughout the entire test.

"We use respirators everyday," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Nathan Knopp, Lincoln weapons department leading petty officer, "mostly when we are painting or sanding in the shop."

Usually, the weapons department takes the respirator fit test every six months aboard the ship but while Lincoln is in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) Bremerton, Wash., those Sailors are working on shore at NAVSTA Everett. Therefore, they must take the station's test.

"This is way different than what we do on the ship," said Knopp. "We don't have this computerized machine. Normally, we just have a tent put over our heads while our respirator is on and they squirt smoke into the tent. If we can smell the smoke, they change the size [of the respirator]. This is much more technologically advanced."

In addition to taking the test, Higgins covers several topics related to the use of respirators. The Sailors discuss and answer questions on proper cartridge disposal, ways to determine if their respirator is working properly and basic operations of a respirator.

Abraham Lincoln is expected to spend four-to-six months at PSNS conducting maintenance and systems upgrades.

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