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Wearing the SCBA in the Heat

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  • Wearing the SCBA in the Heat

    We recently battled a fire in a lumberyard, it was mid afternoon and tempatures were HOT!, our department still uses the Scott 2.2's and the steel cylinder started to wear like a rock after awhile, I am just curious in your departments at what point is it deemed ok by your officers not to be wearing the SCBA
    IAEP Local 152
    "You stopped being in charge when I showed up"

  • #2
    SCBA should be worn when there is a possibility that the atmosphere you are in contains dangerous contaminants or is oxygen deficient. At a lumber yard, while the atmosphere on the exterior is probably not oxyfen deficient, there is a laundry list of products that can cause a severely dangerous contamination, such as a myriad of chemicals and, maybe most importantly, pressure-treated lumber, which contains a heavy metal arsenic.

    SCBA should also be worn during overhaul. During this phase, there is incomplete combustion, which results in actually a greater contaminaiton of fire gases, such as CO, CO2 and the like, then when the fire is burning full-tilt.

    It is no picnic to wear the pack, but you better get used to it.


    • #3
      If their is smoke from more than a lit match, you should be wearing your SCBA. Trust me it is no fun, I have used 2.2's for years and I know what you mean...but it needs to be done for your safety and others.
      AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

      IAFF Local 3900

      IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm

      ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats



      • #4
        Fought a lumber yard fire on July 4th weekend years ago. As George stated, lots of bad stuff involved with lumber yards. My company was called back later in day to relieve others. Many shifts, many bottle changes. Lumber yards are not fun.

        Wearing SCBA when it's hot stinks, no one will argue. But keeping yourself healthy instead of sucking bad air will keep you around a lot longer.

        Stay Safe.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?


        • #5
          I agree with the rest of 'em.......

          Anytime there is even a slight chance of any oxygen deficiency or even if you are outside on a defensive fire and you are close enough to smell the smoke, you should be wearing it. During overhaul it is a must. There are all kinds of gases around after a fire. We bring a meter inside during overhaul and monitor the atmosphere to see when it is safe to take it off.

          In your case, at a lumber yard, I agree again. I would wear it until I know 100% that there is no danger from treated lumber or any chemicals around. As big of a pain in the *** it is to wear a heavy tank like that, you can't gamble with your life or fellow firefighter's lives. Your command staff should realize this and enforce it.

          Keep your head down and your powder dry.
          Lt.Jason Knecht
          Altoona Fire Rescue
          Altoona, WI
          Jason Knecht
          Township Fire Dept., Inc.
          Eau Claire, WI

          IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
          EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!


          • #6
            I agree with what has been posted about when and where SCBA must be worn. I also think one of the most important safety features at this type of fire would be rehab. You have to have enough firefighters at this type of incident to rotate them in and out. Heat and weight of your PPE are the two most debilitating factors on the fire ground. You won't be much good to the dept or yourself without relief.
            Vintage Firefighter:
            "The older I get the braver I was!"


            • #7
              Just for clarity, wearing an SCBA and using an SCBA are two different things.

              You should wear the SCBA at any incident where it's "use" might be needed. Once the facepiece is donned you are not just wearing it, you are using it.

              I'm sure this sounds trivial but the terminology can avoid confusion on the fire scene.


              • #8
                I agree with what has been posted about the use of SCBA at incidents. We use Scott IIa's and yes they are uncomfortable, but so is burning out your lungs with the witch's brew of chemicals that exist in almost all fires today.

                As for how long do you use one our rule of thumb is 2 bottles, then someone else will wear it. If you can use more than 2 bottles without needing a break from the BA then you aren't working the fire. Especially in high heat condtions. 20-30 minutes doing outside work and then you can wear 2 again. Heroes who say stuff like "I went through 5 bottles in a row today" are endangering their own lives, as well as those of their fellow firefighters. Exhaustion is not pretty. Or neccessary. If you wear too many in a row, you won't be able to rotate in and out, and will just make more work for everybody else.

                Just my .02.

                P.S. Why is it "My 2 cents", But only "A penny for your thoughts"?
                This is of course only my humble opinion, but then again, its likely the only one that matters.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dickey
                  I agree with the rest of 'em.......

                  There are all kinds of gases around after a fire. We bring a meter inside during overhaul and monitor the atmosphere to see when it is safe to take it off.

                  So what does your department deem safe?

                  In a thread a while back there was a link to a scientific study that can be summed up: "Low CO and high O2 levels are not an adequate proxy for safe air."

                  In other words, the usual three- and four-gas monitors that engine companies frequently carry cannot tell you that the air is safe to breathe after a fire.

                  I'm not trying to argue here, just pointing out that what seems to be common sense doesn't really apply in this case.

                  On the subject of those damn boat anchor steel bottles - they ought to be reserved for air tools. Yeah composite bottles only last fifteen years, but the difference in firefighter comfort and safety far outweighs the cost (in my opinion). Even aluninum bottles seem cumbersome by comparison.

                  a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for


                  • #10
                    I'm in agreeance with all previous posts on this subject, the use of SCBA is essential. Treated timber when burning/smoldering can give off arsenic gas. Plenty of other carcengenic substances as well in the byproducts of combustion. So keep that SCBA on......


                    • #11
                      Luckily I did the SCBA on during operations, my crew was one of the few wearing our SCBA's, due to the heat and humidity we had to be rehabbed after every air bottle we went through, It was defenitaly a long and hot firefight
                      NYS FF1/AEMT-CC
                      IAEP Local 152
                      "You stopped being in charge when I showed up"


                      • #12
                        THis hits home the importance of hydrating before, during and after operations.

                        Take the allocated breaks as they are offered and keep the fluid intake happening....


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