Our Greatest Challenges

Fire Fighter Mask

The Challenge

The purpose of this QL+ Challenge was to create a unique self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for our Challenger, a firefighter stationed in San Francisco, California.

Our Challenger has dedicated several years of his life serving his local fire department. After a few years on job, he was diagnosed with pharynx cancer. He went through chemotherapy and the cancer went into remission. Unfortunately, it returned, and he had no choice but to undergo a laryngectomy, which requires the removal of his voice box, vocal chords, and other areas of his throat. His airway channels are separated, requiring him to breathe through a stoma (a small opening in his neck) instead of his mouth and nose.

Our Challenger is physically fit to return to work, but the current firefighter SCBA is not designed to provide oxygen to his stoma. A new SCBA must be designed that will allow him to fully perform his duties while providing enough oxygen to his stoma. QL+ engineering students at Cal Poly developed a mask and respirator that provided oxygen to his stoma.