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Full Face Masks and Rebreathers

DSCN4492I recently published this short news item in the “In The Loop” newsletter I wrote for Hollis. It examines their efforts to build full face masks for rebreathers.

At the international RF3.0 (Rebreather Forum 3.0) event in 2012, delegates unanimously agreed that further study off FFMs was warranted by the industry. As a result, Hollis launched a challenging investigation and design process, while training agencies PADI and TDI decided to begin curriculum development for programs to train CCR users in the safe use of FFMs.

Full face masks (FFMs) are specialized enhancements that should only be used by  experienced CCR divers after completion of advanced training. Filmmakers sometimes use FFMs to capture clean vocals when shooting underwater and commercial divers use them for routine communications. FFMs may provide the benefit of airway protection in the event that a diver loses consciousness, but most people choose to use them for easy and enjoyable communication with their dive partner. Before you jump in to a FFM, it is wise to look at the design and training factors that engineers and educational designers are currently considering.


  • Easy vocal communications within the dive team
  • Ability to record audio for films
  • Warmth and environmental protection
  • Potential to save an unconscious diver


  • Challenges of fit
  • Unique procedures for clearing
  • May use significant gas volume to clear
  • Special adapters needed to connect to different rebreathers
  • Range of motion and peripheral vision limitations
  • Potential for carbon dioxide dead space
  • Developing procedures for dealing with failures
  • Designing procedures and devices for redundancy

Stay tuned! We’ll see what the industry has in store for divers that are interested in talking underwater!

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