Respirator Fit Study FAQ – General Study Information

What is the purpose of this study?

Emergency workers often rely on respirators to reduce their exposure to infectious bioaerosols while treating patients. To ensure a respirator is protective, emergency workers are fit tested. However, the exercises conducted in the recommended standardized fit testing protocol may not adequately reflect the movements made during life-support and patient handling tasks that may breach the seal of a respirator. Our goal is to recruit at least 200 paramedics and firefighters to measure respirator fit during simulated life support and patient handling tasks and identify if someone who passed a standard fit test was also protected when performing these tasks.  We also want to identify what factors may influence who passes a fit test such as body type and emergency worker experience.

Who is funding the study? 

This study is funded by the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The grant funds are administered through the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) at Ontario Health.

Who is conducting the study?

The research study is being led by Dr. Tracy Kirkham who is the Associate Director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) at Ontario Health and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. The research team also includes Mr. Paul Bozek (Associate Professor, University of Toronto), Dr. James Scott (Professor, University of Toronto), Mr. Chris MacDonald (PhD student, University of Toronto & OCRC), and Ms. Rachel Tyli (PhD student, University of Toronto & OCRC). Other research staff will be present to assist in fit testing.

Where is the fit testing site?

The study is being conducted at the Gage Building (223 College St, M5T 1R4, Toronto, ON, Canada) at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus, or a pre-selected testing site. The study coordinator ( will send you details regarding the location of your fit testing sessions.

How do I get to the Gage Building fit testing site?

You can travel to the Gage Building (223 College Street) via transit, walking, biking, and driving.

  1. Via Toronto transit (TTC)

The Gage building is accessible via subway and streetcar.

Subway – the closest stop is Queen’s Park Station. Exit the station at the exit located on the west side of University Avenue and the south side of College Street. Walk west on College Street for 5 blocks to Ross Street.

Streetcar – The College Streetcar stops one block east of the Gage Building at Beverly/St. George Street. The Spadina Streetcar stops two blocks west of the Gage Building at College Street.

  1. Driving

If driving, we recommend that you locate your route to the Gage Building. A link to the building on Google Maps is located here. Please reach out to the study staff if you would like to discuss access or your route before your arrival.

Note: Many of the parking options are located just off College street off one of the side streets. Please beware, some of the side streets around Gage are one-way streets.

  • Ross Street – one way (north direction)
  • Huron Street – one way (south direction)
  • Henry Street – one way (south direction)

For pre-selected fit testing sites other than the Gage Building, the study team will send you instructions upon request for directions.

How do I access the Gage Building for fit testing?

Please arrange your visit ahead of time. The Gage Building is a secured building that is locked 24hrs a day, located at 223 College Street on the corner of Ross Street.  The main entrance to the building is through the doors on Ross Street. For entrance, ring the bell located to the right of the door. You will either be buzzed in, or someone will welcome you at the door.

Is there parking available at the Gage Building?

There are several paid parking options near the Gage Building.

  1. Monday through Friday:
  • Street parking on Ross Street (which is one-way north)
  • Street parking lot located behind the building on the south-east corner of College and Huron Street
  • Underground parking lots
    • Under the Bahen Centre (Lot C, 213 Huron Street). Take Huron Street north off College Street, the entrance to the underground lot is just north of the intersection. This lot is approximately a 4-minute walk to the Gage Building.
    • Under the Myhal Centre (Lot A, 55 St. George Street). The entrance to the lot is located at 20 Galbraith Road, a small street off St. George Street and north of College Street. This lot is approximately a 7-minute walk to the Gage Building.
  1. Weekends:
  • Street parking on Ross Street (which is one-way north)
  • Street parking lot
    • Outside the Gage Building (223 College Street) off Ross Street
      • NOTE: this lot is not available Monday – Friday during the day to non-permit holders.
    • Behind the building on the south-east corner of College and Huron Street
    • 256 McCaul Street (south side of College Street)
  • Under the Bahen Centre (Lot C, 213 Huron Street). Take Huron Street north off College Street, the entrance to the underground lot is just north of the intersection. This lot is approximately a 4-minute walk to the Gage Building.

Do I have to take an antigen test?

Currently participants will not be required to undergo antigen screening at the test site. However, this may change in response to the pandemic and the University of Toronto COVID-19 Policy. The study will follow the up-to-date procedures required in this policy.  You will be notified of the current requirements when you book your fit testing appointment.

Please note: Any individual who is symptomatic or a contact of a confirmed case should go to their healthcare provider, to an assessment centre, or participating licensed community lab to obtain a diagnostic test. They should also notify the study coordinator ( to reschedule their fit test appointment.

Benefits of the study

You will be provided with respirator training outside of that provided by your service and you will be provided with a take home brochure with important respirator facts, resources, and an inspection list. This will improve, or reinforce, your knowledge on respirator use and care, and fit testing.  You will also be fit tested on several different types of respirators and provided with a written copy of your fit testing results before you leave the testing site.

Participating in the study will also contribute to the overall knowledge and awareness of the study.  The study will provide stakeholders and end-users with valuable information regarding respiratory fit factors during patient handling and life support tasks. The data generated from this study may lead to policy changes relating to the respiratory protection requirements for patient handing & life support tasks and to the protocol in fit testing emergency workers to ensure they are protected on the job.

Risks of the study

There is a risk of physical injury when performing patient handling and life support tasks included in the study (e.g., lifting a patient, performing compressions) such as muscle strains and skin pinches.  Paramedics and firefighters are only eligible to participate if they conduct these tasks as part of their regular job. Their familiarity with the tasks should reduce the risk of injury.  The study is also using standard training equipment used by emergency workers such as: stretchers, standardized security latches, Little Anne QCPRs etc.  When performing two-manned tasks participants will be assisted by research staff trained in performing the task.

Some people may also be uncomfortable answering some questions. All questions in the questionnaire do have a prefer not to answer option. Furthermore, the questionnaire will be done online and grouped with all other responses to protect an individual’s answers during testing.