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When to refill SCBA cylinders

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  • When to refill SCBA cylinders

    Have a stupid debate going on about when 30 minute/4500 psi SCBA cylinders should be refilled. Can't find the NFPA standard, but I was taught to refill/change when cylinder is below 90% of rated capacity, which would be 4000 psi.

    In the debate, some are saying 2000 psi is "plenty" and leave the cylinder on a pack in service if it is 3000 psi and above. Have seen studies and observed that it is rare for anyone to get 30 minutes from 30 minute cylinder when working, and average working time on a 30 minute cylinder is between 12 and 25 minutes. 3000 or less is insane and/or dangerous, in my opinion.

    Anyone have any video/charts or anything else to show people that cylinders should be refilled when they are below 4000 psi?

  • #2
    Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
    Have a stupid debate going on about when 30 minute/4500 psi SCBA cylinders should be refilled. Can't find the NFPA standard, but I was taught to refill/change when cylinder is below 90% of rated capacity, which would be 4000 psi.

    In the debate, some are saying 2000 psi is "plenty" and leave the cylinder on a pack in service if it is 3000 psi and above. Have seen studies and observed that it is rare for anyone to get 30 minutes from 30 minute cylinder when working, and average working time on a 30 minute cylinder is between 12 and 25 minutes. 3000 or less is insane and/or dangerous, in my opinion.

    Anyone have any video/charts or anything else to show people that cylinders should be refilled when they are below 4000 psi?
    My dept says to fill below 3800 psi. Me personally, I prefer to have the cylinder as full as possible. I can make that last 100 psi of air last a looooooong time if I'm trapped or laid up in the buiding with a broken leg or something.
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those willing to work and give to those who are not." Thomas Jefferson

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    • #3
      My department has a lose, word of mouth, policy to fill them below 4000 psi. On my engine they are filled when they are more than 200 psi low. We have a compressor and three trucks with cascades systems, so there is no excuse for use not to have 4500 psi in every SCBA, and the spare bottles.
      On my volunteer department we have to travel 20 miles to fill our bottles, so we will let them get to 3800 psi (1 hour packs) before we make a trip.

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      • #4
        I think officially we fill ours at 3,800, but I always top them off at 4,000. 2-3,000 is WAY too low- it's only half of the bottle's capacity.

        If you're at 2,000, you're only 750 psi from the end of service alarm. Of course, if you're using the alarm like you're supposed to, you should have plenty of air to get out since you have almost twice in reserve than you do going in.

        The most common reason I see the 3,800-4,000 is to account for "hot fills" and the lessening of pressure as the air inside cools after being filled. If you're filling them to 4,500, 3,800 should be the minimum amount prior to a top-off.

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        • #5
          How about fill them when they aren't full?
          Career Firefighter
          Volunteer Captain

          -Professional in Either Role-

          Originally posted by Rescue101
          I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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          • #6
            My career FD says fill if below 4500 psi. When the rescue truck is in our quarters I NEVER let my bottle go below 4500 psi. Actually I usually fill it to roughly 4800 psi so when it cools it will be right around 4500.

            My volly FD uses low pressure SCBA and our standard there is refill when below 2000 psi. Again I usually fill to around 2500 so when they cool they are at 2200 or above slightly.

            I want every second of air that bottle can hold and thusly refill at a personal standard higher than the department's.
            Crazy, but that's how it goes
            Millions of people living as foes
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            • #7
              Originally posted by FyredUp View Post

              I want every second of air that bottle can hold and thusly refill at a personal standard higher than the department's.
              Can you explain this to a couple of our officers who think 2000 or 3000 on a 4500 psi cylinder is OK?

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              • #8
                we have 4500 30's and it is below 4K .............wow half full really ?
                IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
                Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
                ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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                I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
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                http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by GTRider245 View Post
                  How about fill them when they aren't full?
                  Seriously, why wouldn't you top 'em off if they aren't "full"?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
                    Can you explain this to a couple of our officers who think 2000 or 3000 on a 4500 psi cylinder is OK?
                    I don't know, if they can't figure out on their own that a full cylinder gives you "30 minutes" of work time and a half full cylinder gives you "15 minutes" of work time and understand why "30 minutes" of air is better than "15 minutes" of air, then I'm not sure there's anything he could say to convince them to refill those cylinders.

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                    • #11
                      We refill ours at 4200 psi. I think it is a waste of time to argue over why a certain psi is the best pressure to refill. It is all arbitrary. 4201 is better than 4200 but our policy is not 4201. Why? Well... Who knows. If we had an air machine at our station I'd top them off more often.

                      Anyways I think it I reasonable to keep bottles at that psi. 3800 just seems too low. These rules only exist to keep slugs from letting their bottle get to 1/2 even if they checked it to begin with.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
                        Have a stupid debate going on about when 30 minute/4500 psi SCBA cylinders should be refilled. Can't find the NFPA standard, but I was taught to refill/change when cylinder is below 90% of rated capacity, which would be 4000 psi.

                        In the debate, some are saying 2000 psi is "plenty" and leave the cylinder on a pack in service if it is 3000 psi and above. Have seen studies and observed that it is rare for anyone to get 30 minutes from 30 minute cylinder when working, and average working time on a 30 minute cylinder is between 12 and 25 minutes. 3000 or less is insane and/or dangerous, in my opinion.

                        Anyone have any video/charts or anything else to show people that cylinders should be refilled when they are below 4000 psi?
                        JD, a few questions need to be asked before you can really get informed. Just because the cylinder is a 4500 there are a few variables 4500-30 min, 4500-45 min, and 4500-60 min. The 4500-30 min is the very small cylinder. It has 4500 cu ft in it (sames as a 30 min 2216) and intended for 30 min use. the 4500-45 min has 66 cu ft which is supposed to be enough for 45 minutes of use. This is the high pressure cylinder that virtually resembles a 2216. A 4500-60 min has 88 cu ft. So, which is yours? Lets go backwards here now, a 4500-60 min at 2225 psi has a 30 min duration left, a 4500-30 min at that psi has 15 minutes left. See the pattern here? So, if you are using 4500-60 min, you might have enough to do a initial entry. However, you need to consider that by going in on a fire with 1/2 the cylinder (even though it still has 30 min duration left) you are not going with the program intended for the dept in having 4500-60 min duration cylinders.
                        Am I being effective in my efforts or am I merely showing up in my fireman costume to watch a house burn down?” (Joe Brown, www.justlookingbusy.wordpress.com)

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                        • #13
                          Our policy is if the needle is not touching the full mark the bottle is topped off or swapped out. I have the same mindset as Fyred does. I overfill the bottle so as they cool they will be on the full mark or above it. I want all the air in the bottles that I can get in it.

                          Of course we the ones that will twist around to the side of the bottle so the needle is touching the full mark from that vantage point, so they don't have to spend two minutes to change bottles out.

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                          • #14
                            This is nuts. I can't believe people actualy advocate a certain pressure for bottles to be topped off at. If it ain't full, FILL IT.

                            Obviously some people have never heard of ROAM.
                            Career Firefighter
                            Volunteer Captain

                            -Professional in Either Role-

                            Originally posted by Rescue101
                            I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
                              Can you explain this to a couple of our officers who think 2000 or 3000 on a 4500 psi cylinder is OK?
                              If they need to have it explained...they shouldn't be officers.

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