Crewmember smoke hoods are critical in case of in-flight fires. There are multiple kinds of smoke hoods available on the market, featuring different designs and methods for supplying oxygen. In this article, we give an overview of Essex Industries smoke hoods, their benefits, and how they compare to other smoke hoods.
What are Smoke Hoods?
Smoke hoods, also known as personal breathing equipment (PBE), protect the wearer from smoke, gases, and other dangerous fumes or particulates that may occur during an aircraft fire. For cabin crewmembers, smoke hoods offer opportunities for attempting fire suppression and assisting in an evacuation by providing oxygen and visibility.
Smoke hoods utilize two different methods for supplying oxygen: compressed oxygen cylinders and chemical oxygen generators (more on this below).
What are the Benefits of Essex Industries Smoke Hoods?
1. Quick Application
The Essex PBE can be quickly and easily deployed and donned. The entire process of removing the smoke hood from its packaging, activating the oxygen cylinders, and donning the hood takes approximately 15 seconds. Oxygen begins filling the hood immediately upon activation.
Note: Glasses do not need to be removed before donning the hood.
2. End-of-Service Indicator
Essex Industries is the only PBE to include an end-of-service indicator (EOSI). The indicator within the hood flashes a green light while oxygen is flowing and flashes red after 15 minutes. When this happens, the hood will begin to collapse and the crewmember should find a safe location to remove the hood and, if necessary, don a new one.
Crewmember smoke hoods generally have a 15-minute minimum under heavy workload. In some cases, the Essex PBE may be worn for up to 60 minutes, depending on the wearer’s physical size and level of exertion. Smoke hoods can only be used once.
3. Compressor Oxygen Cylinders
The Essex PBE utilizes compressed oxygen cylinder technology and aviator grade oxygen, rather than chemical oxygen generators (COGs). Unlike compressed oxygen cylinder technology, COGs require a chemical reaction and release excessive heat to activate and produce oxygen. Most PBE utilize COG technology.
4. No Need for Oral or Nasal Mask
The Essex PBE does not require oral or nasal masks because oxygen is self-contained within the hood.
Without an oral or nasal mask, communication is not impeded. Crewmembers can still use the aircraft’s intercom system or megaphone to provide directions to passengers while wearing the hood.
Crewmembers should not attempt to put a communication device in the hood because this might allow smoke, toxic fumes, or particulates into the hood, compromising the hood’s effectiveness.
5. Patented CO2 Scrubbers
The Essex PBE features patented passive scrubbers inside the hood for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) the crewmember breaths out. Other PBE include chemical scrubbers or soda lime cartridges to neutralize CO2.
6. Wide Range of Vision
Essex smoke hoods for cabin crewmembers have a 270-degree visibility range, providing the widest range of vision for responding to and managing emergencies. Most PBE have less than 150 degrees of visibility.
When worn, the Essex smoke hood weighs 3.2 lbs., making it one of the lightest PBE on the market.
The hood and its stowage case weigh 4.3 lbs. This does not contribute much to the aircraft’s overall weight. In comparison, other PBE and their stowage cases weigh between 5.4 lbs. and 6.3 lbs.
8. Long Shelf Life
Essex smoke hoods offer a long shelf life of 10.5 years while other PBE are around 10 years. Smoke hoods should not be used if the expiration date has been exceeded.
9. Humidity Indicator
Essex smoke hoods are also the one PBE with a humidity indicator. The blue humidity indicator will change to pink if humidity has entered the case and compromised the hood.
The Essex PBE is non-hazardous and does not require special packaging or handling for shipping. COG smoke masks, however, are considered hazardous materials for shipment and may be restricted for shipment in some countries.
Why Choose Essex Industries Smoke Hoods?
The Essex PBE offers several benefits, including quick application, an end-of-service indicator, compressed oxygen cylinders, a wide range of visibility, a humidity indicator, and various stowage options, to name a few. Not all smoke hoods available on the market include these features and technology. When debating what PBE to have onboard, consider how the design of the smoke hood and its stowage container allow for quick access and activation, and how well the PBE allows crewmembers to address the emergency while providing protection.
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