Canadian Firefighter Magazine

KPU students design tents to protect firefighters from wildfire smoke

By Kwantlen Polytechnic University   

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May 8, 2024, Surrey, B.C. — Sophisticated tents designed by Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) students to protect firefighters from forest fire smoke could be tested in fire camps in B.C. this summer, said a press release from the university.

The prototype shelters, designed for use on fire lines and fire camps, aim to provide wildfire crews access to clean air in smoky environments.

Kevin Kang, a third-year student at the Wilson School of Design at KPU, believes the project could significantly improve firefighters’ safety and effectiveness.

“These professionals are often stationed far from their base camps and are constantly exposed to harmful smoke and poor air quality, even during breaks,” said Kang in a press release. “Our goal was to create a clean-air shelter that could help reduce the immediate dangers of smoke inhalation and address the long-term health risks.”


The shelters are easy to set up and equipped with a three-layer air filtration system similar to advanced cabin air filters. The system removes a wide range of pollutants and creates a breathable environment within the tent, the university said in the release.

There are two sizes of tent, a smaller model designed for two people and tailored for fire line use, and a larger tent that provides space for up to 12 people, meant for fire camp use.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service has plans to test these clean-air shelter prototypes at fire camps impacted by wildfire smoke this summer.

“Finding a type of respiratory protection that is effective under extreme conditions is challenging. Historically, the B.C. Wildfire Service staff were not provided respiratory protection against wildfire smoke, ash and dust exposure on the fireline,” says Jesse Wallace-Webb, an initial attack crew leader and research analyst at the BC Wildfire Service, in a press release. “Future iterations of these clean-air shelter prototypes might represent one potential tool, among many others, for addressing smoke exposure during wildfire response.”

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