FDNY MASKS HAVE FAILED TERROR TEST

By ANGELINA CAPPIELLO


October 20, 2002 -- Breathing masks currently used by New York firefighters would not protect them in a chemical or biological attack, according to government tests.

The discovery alarms some of the city's Bravest.

"Everyone's nervous about what's going on," said 12th Battalion Chief Bill Vanwart. "We'd be the first line of defense . . . we certainly have to take care of this [the masks]."

Since January, the federal government's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in conjunction with the Army, has been testing self-contained breathing apparatus masks.

While suitable for firefighting, most of the masks failed tests simulating a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.

Ten companies' masks failed, The Post has learned, including those from Scott Health and Safety, which supplies the FDNY and about 65 percent of the country's fire departments.

When contacted by The Post, John Skaryak, Scott's fire-screening manager, confirmed the FDNY's masks failed but said changes have been made to gain institute approval.



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