The FM53 may just be the ultimate gas mask. Based on the US Joint Services General Purpose Mask (JSGPM) Program, Avon’s FM53-Series Protective Mask was specifically developed to meet the unique requirements of special operations units. It was specifically designed to counter the multiple threats found on the modern battlefield, the war on terrorism, and peacekeeping operations around the world.
The FM53 achieved the highest overall rating in the Tactical Response Magazine’s recent multiple operator Field Test of all the available CBRN masks. (See www.hendonpub.com, Resources, Article Archives for the complete test and evaluation.)
The FM53 provides protection against traditional chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) warfare agents, select Toxic Industrial Materials (TIMs), Toxic Industrial Chemicals and particulate matter including radioactive dust. The FM53 is NIOSH certified when configured with the CTF12 filter and the CBRNF12B filter. The FM53 is industrial certified under NIOSH as a component of Avon’s ST53 SCBA system.
For operator protection and comfort, the mask is made with an optically correct, flexible polyurethane eye lens to minimize eye stress and maximize field of view. While traditionally military gas masks have two flat eyepieces, and commercial gas masks often have domed, one-piece lenses, the Avon FM53 has a non-domed, one-piece lens. This one-piece lens increases the operator’s field of vision when compared to gas masks with two-piece, individual eye holes.
Additional “outserts” (lenses) are available to provide sunlight and laser protection. A clear outsert is also offered for more scratch protection in extreme environments, as well as a blue blocker to reduce haze while also providing overall ballistic protection.
The mask’s harness and buckles provide improved comfort and compatibility with ballistic helmets and communication gear. The Avon mask uses a new reflex seal that provides high levels of protection and comfort. For neck and head protection, a fully integrated, lightweight protective hood is available; it is also flame retardant and tested to 800° degrees Celsius.
The mask’s hydration system offers increased capability for fluid intake and a fail-safe operation that is compatible with both conventional canteens and other types of hydration systems. In 2011 Avon Protection and CamelBak entered into a formal partnership that enables Avon to complement its CBRN mask range with a uniquely engineered CamelBak hydration system. The core to the new Avon Protection hydration system is the CamelBak chem / bio resistant three liter flexible reservoir that has been specifically engineered to fit directly to any Avon Protection CBRN mask.
The FM53 is available in five sizes, XS, SM, MD, LG, and XL and in right- or left-handed versions to provide the best cheek-to-stock weld. Internal nose cups are removable and interchangeable to give a more customized fit; they also come in five sizes: XS, SM, MD, LG, and XL. Dual port configurations are available to maximize operation flexibility.
For communications, the FM53 is equipped with a standard Electronic Communications Port (ECP) and Voice Projection Unit (VPU) for radio and voice amplification interface; its internal microphone assembly offers enhanced speech performance. A low profile, exterior mounted amplifier is available for inter-team communication and the 2-pin pass through allows interface with a variety of off-the-shelf communication devices.
The FM53is capable of operational flexibility in these modes: Air Purifying Respirator (APR) – a negative pressure mask using NATO thread filters; Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA); Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR); Closed Circuit Breathing Apparatus (CCBA); and SCBA and PAPR combinations.
Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio, Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.