Collective protection systems provide toxic-free rest, work areas

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Timothy Bennett
  • 8th Civil Engineer Squadron
What are collective protection systems and why do we need them?

The CPS is a standby system within designated facilities that is activated when there is a chemical or biological threat. The CPS function is also used for facility occupants and shelter management team training during exercises.

The CPS is an overpressure system built into the facility that is an enclosure of pressurized, purified air. Carbon and HEPA, or High Efficiency Particle Attenuation, particulate filters in the CPS remove any nuclear, biological or chemical contamination from the air. The system does not protect against gamma radiation or neutron particles, however.

The air pressure precludes leakage of contaminated air into the enclosure. Personnel enter and exit through a protective entrance, called the ingress and egress area. The ingress and egress entrance has a separate airlock system which prevents contamination from entering the toxic-free area.

There are three tiers, or categories, to rate the importance or function of each CPS facility. Tier I facilities are known as mission-essential. These facilities protect those personnel who must perform mission-essential tasks without the burden of wearing their chemical protective overgarment. Tier II facilities are known as emergency operations. These facilities protect those individuals who support the mission. The third and final tier is rest and relief. Tier III CPS facilities provide Wolf Pack members the opportunity to obtain relief from their CPO for eating, personal hygiene and rest between work shifts.

Prior to entry into the CPS, personnel must process through a contamination control area, which can be internal or external depending on the facility. When done correctly, personnel will ensure contamination is not brought into the facility along with gaining relief from the burden of the mission-oriented protective posture gear.

CPS facilities with internal contamination control has a liquid hazard area for removal of the overboots, overgarments and gloves, and a vapor hazard area for mask and personnel monitoring by an attendant. Once through both areas, personnel are able to move into the toxic free area to remove their protective mask.

Facilities with external CCAs follow similar procedures; however, the CCA is located on the outside of the ingress door under an overhang.

Before leaving a CPS facility, personnel simply have to open their second issued suit or receive extra gear from the SMT member, don the gear and their mask in the TFA area, and proceed through the egress doors. The ingress and egress are usually two separate routes to accommodate for simultaneous entering and exiting of the CPS airlock area. Understanding these entry and exit procedures will ensure the effectiveness of the CPS.

Because it's not always feasible to avoid, displace or thoroughly decontaminate personnel within a contaminated area, CPS facilities provide a TFA inside of the contaminated zones to protect them from biological and chemical warfare agents. The CPS can increase individual production and morale by providing relief from wearing their MOPP gear.

Next time you're caught outdoors during a simulated chemical attack and become contaminated, remember to call your unit control center and report to a CPS facility to clean up and get some rest.