A culture of innovation and a focus on safety above all else saw one of our innovations win us the Innovator of the Year award at the prestigious Australian Defence Industry Awards. 

Following the 2019-20 'Black Summer' bushfires, Ventia's HMAS Albatross Lead Firefighter, Gary Gilbert, saw an opportunity to provide an additional safety measure for his crew after noting they were at risk when changing masks to adapt to varying firefighting conditions. 

He contacted our long-time firefighting PPE provider Dräger to collaborate on developing and testing a solution - creating a simple, but highly effective filter adaptor that allows an 'in field' change from breathing apparatus to cannister filters, without removing the mask. The adaptor has resulted in one mask being adaptable for all aspects of firefighting.

Traditional airway protection for firefighters in standard turn-out, full-body protection, includes respirators and masks. The breathing apparatus is changed from respirators to cannister filters when adapting to varying firefighting conditions, including when Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM) is suspected.

However, the changeover requires the full-face protection to be removed, possibly exposing and compromising firefighters' respiration and vision. 

Gary knew there had to be a better, safer way for the fire crews.

Colin Anderson, Ventia's National Fire Manager and firefighting veteran of 32 years says: 

The breathing apparatus mask adaptor is an innovation that allows firefighters to operate more safely in hazardous environments.

"The filter adaptor is screwed into the base of the mask and allows the cannister filters to be fitted, without impacting mask functionality." 

It helps protect fire crews throughout an entire incident, regardless of changing conditions or toxic environments. The filter also removes the need for specialist filters in the case of ACM blazes. 

filter adaptor

The filter adaptor is screwed into the base of the mask and allows the cannister filters to be fitted, without impacting mask functionality.

The innovation is now used by 320 Ventia firefighters across 14 Defence Australia bases nationally. It has also been adopted by ~7,000 NSW Fire and Rescue firefighters. 

"It's fantastic to see Ventia leading the way with this innovation," says Gavin Campbell, Executive General Manager for Ventia's Defence business.

Being able to introduce it to the wider firefighting industry has been a source of great pride for Ventia and the teams. We are happy that we are part of decreasing respiratory risks for firefighters as safety is very important to Ventia.

'And of course, winning Innovator of the Year was the cherry on top for us."  

Benefits of the filter adapter 

  • Easy to fit and use, even when wearing thick gloves that can inhibit hand dexterity
  • Adaptable for all common use filters and masks
  • Easily accessible replacement parts
  • Cost effective manufacturing


Watch our video to see how the apparatus works.