The Self-Contained Toxic Environment Protective Outfit (STEPO) program developed a totally encapsulating protective ensemble for protection against chemical/biological agents, missile/rocket fuels, petroleum, oils and lubricants (POL), and industrial chemicals. The ensemble incorporates a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (with a tether/emergency breathing apparatus option), a battery powered cooling system and a hands-free communications system. STEPO will be used in extremely hazardous areas where contact with chemical agents, POLs, missile fuels, and/or toxic industrial chemicals can occur. The system will be worn by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Technical Escort Units, Ammunition handlers, and Chemical Surety Activity personnel engaged in special operations in Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) environments. The system will be used during peacetime and wartime conditions.
For safety reasons, STEPO will replace the M3 Toxicological Agents Protective (TAP) ensemble in highly toxic areas. It will provide the wearer with clean, closed circuit breathing air rather than the filtered air provided in the TAP ensemble. Although the STEPO system will be more costly, it will provide greater protection and cooling capabilities than the TAP system. Interim STEPO has been fielded for Army depot use.
- Provide 4 hours of percutaneous and respiratory protection against chemical/biological agents, toxic industrial chemicals, unknown chemicals, rocket fuels and POLs.
- Capable of being decontaminated for reuse after five vapor exposures; decontaminated and disposed after liquid contamination.
- Provide 4 hours of self-contained breathing and cooling.
- Compatible with radios in chemical activity and explosive ordnance disposal supply system.
The STEPO was Type Classified in November 1997. A multifunctional team, to include the production contractor, has developed a scope of work for production and initial fielding of the STEPO system, January 1998. The award date for the STEPO production contract was 3QFY98.