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Use respirator other than SCBA for overhaul?

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  • Use respirator other than SCBA for overhaul?

    I am not a big fan of wearing SCBA for hours on end. The doggoned thing is heavy. However, I realize that during overhaul there is still a lot of nasty stuff in the air, so we should be wearing breathing protection...

    Does anybody wear respirators other than SCBA for overhaul, for example a half-piece respirator with organic vapor and HEPA cartridges? I am thinking this should cover just about every toxin. The only difference between overhaul and the fire itself is the heat, right? And by then the heat is gone, so we don't have to have cool air from the SCBA.

    I sure would rather wear a light little respirator, even with the bulky cartridges, and goggles, than that SCBA while we're pulling down the ceiling.

    What is everyone's experience?

  • #2
    In order to wear half or full face piece air purifying respirators (APR) in any atmosphere you must meet several conditions:

    1) It is part of your written respiratory protection plan, which includes details of when the APR's are acceptable.

    2) Fit testing is done with the respirator.

    3) The use of an APR is limited to atmospheres with O2 above 19.5%, known concentration of a known product and the concentraion of the is within the limits for APR use (consult the NIOSH Pocket Guide), and the atmosphere is non-IDLH.

    There are many toxins present during overhaul and unless you are conducting detailed analysis of the air after a fire, you have no idea what is present. A four-gas meter is worthless for making this determination after a fire. There has been much written lately about hydrogen cyanide exposure during and after structure fires. An organic vapor cartridge will not absorb hydrogen cyanide as it is not an organic compound.

    Firehouse.com article on cyanide poisoning

    I would stay with the SCBA's.
    Last edited by KenNFD1219; 09-30-2006, 09:47 PM.
    -------------------
    "The most mediocre man or woman can suddenly seem dynamic, forceful, and decisive if he or she is mean enough." from "Crazy Bosses"
    -----------------------------------------------
    Genius has its limits, but stupidity is boundless.

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    • #3
      SCBA are heavy? Please. The new SCBA's whether 1/2 hour 4500 or 1/2 hour 2216 weigh less than 20 pounds. This down from about 40 pounds when I started with crappy face pieces, horrible, stiff, nylon straps, and STEEL 1800 psi bottles.

      Okay now on to your question about another style of respirators. Not a good idea. You probably don't remember canister masks, but I remember my dad's FD having them and the biggest problem with any filter type mask is there is ZERO protection against carbon monoxide. So unless you are going to constantly monitor the air, wear your SCBA. I am of the mind that a filter mask offers a flase sense of security.

      FyredUp
      Crazy, but that's how it goes
      Millions of people living as foes
      Maybe it's not too late
      To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

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      • #4
        Aside from all the very valid reasons for not wearing the filter mask already mentioned, breathing is ALOT harder in a filter when doing strenuous work. You have to suck every breath through whatever array of filters you have as opposed to having positive flow to your facepiece

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        • #5
          All of the excellent reasons above NOT to wear a respirator aside, who is going to pay for the new replacement filters after each use?

          Wear your SCBA!




          Kevin
          Fire Lieutenant/E.M.T.
          IAFF Local 2339
          K of C 4th Degree
          "LEATHER FOREVER"
          Member I.A.C.O.J.
          http://www.tfdfire.com/
          "Fir na tine"

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          • #6
            First to Halligan, I love your avatar dude.

            To echo his sentiments, its much easier to breath through the SCBA. Anyone who is (or has been) in the military, like myself, and has done a few exercises in chem gear can tell you that its very hard to do strenuous work while trying to suck air through a filter.

            Since going through training to be a vollie in my off time, I can tell you I'd gladly carry the extra weight (which really isn't that much) than have to suck air through a filter. Been there, done that, returned the t-shirt. This is in addition to the reasons such as carbon monoxide already stated in other posts.
            Tom Warshaw
            Station 13 (Bethel)
            Sumter Fire Department

            "Scientists believe that the world is composed mainly of hydrogen because in their opinion, it is the most abundant element. I however, feel the earth is composed mainly of stupidity, because it is more abundant than hydrogen." - Frank Zappa

            September 11, 2001. We Must Never Forget.

            In memory of Thomas Sabella, L-13, FDNY


            All opinions stated are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my department or any organization I may belong to.

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            • #7
              excellent input

              Thanks everyone for the excellent responses. I'll wear the SCBA. Our firehouse still has steel bottles and they are a little on the heavy side - but you have more than convinced me. What a great site, so helpful.

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              • #8
                While I completely agree with the majority that we should stick to wearing SCBA during overhaul, I will also say this: Wearing a filter mask is better than wearing NOTHING, false sense of security aside. It's still going to filter some of the junk, whereas wearing nothing offers ZERO protection. While I would hope that depts in today's day and age are mandating, training and enforcing the use of SCBA during overhaul, realistically I know there are still many firefighters who yank the pack off as soon as the fire is out.

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                • #9
                  the theory is a good one but as many of the posters stated it wont cover all the bases so just stick with the scba..although saying that modern air packs are down to 20lbs is a little over exagerated although the weight has gone down and the way it is distributed has been greatly improved..im 99.9% sure that my department's SCOTT NxG2s are still at about 29lbs

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                  • #10
                    My volly FD has Sott AP-50's with 2216 Carbon Fiber bottles and the weight of these SCBA is 11 pounds for the back pak, 9.4 pounds for the botle and lets say 1 pound for the face piece, so okay, around 22 pounds.

                    Yours is NxG2 and depending on the bottle: 2216 Carbon Fiber weighs 9.4 pounds, 4500 Carbom Fiber 30 minute 9.4 pounds, 45 minute 13.6 pounds, and 1 hour 16.6 pounds. I couldn't find a weight for the NxG2 bare pak frame but let's assume it weighs the same as the AP-50 so if we put a 2216 or 4500 thirty minute bottle on it and add 1 pound for the mask it weighs roughly 22 pounds, with a 45 minute bottle and mask it would weigh roughly 26 pounds and with the 1 hour bottle weighs roughly 28 pounds. So I guess if you are using 45 minute or one hour bottles you are close to 29 pounds.

                    When I started we had Scott Pak Ones that weighed in the neighborhood of 40 pounds. 1800 psi steel cylinders. What a treat that was!! I'll take the lightweight aspect of a 1/2 hour Carbon Fiber bottle and my 22 pound SCBA, thank you very much.

                    FyredUp
                    Crazy, but that's how it goes
                    Millions of people living as foes
                    Maybe it's not too late
                    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chauffer6
                      ......realistically I know there are still many firefighters who yank the pack off as soon as the fire is out.
                      Honestly, thats what we do.
                      RK
                      cell #901-494-9437

                      Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

                      "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


                      Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MemphisE34a
                        Honestly, thats what we do.
                        Ditto......
                        IACOJ Member

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MemphisE34a
                          Honestly, thats what we do.
                          Same here........
                          I am a complacent liability to the fire service

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                          • #14
                            I know there are still many firefighters who yank the pack off as soon as the fire is out.
                            Honestly, thats what we do.
                            Same here........



                            VIOLATORS !! ... GET THE VIOLATORS !!!


                            Sorry, that's my favorite quote for the 1994 movie 'PCU', which incidentally was Ari Gold's (of Entourage fame) first big movie.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Chauffer6
                              realistically I know there are still many firefighters who yank the pack off as soon as the fire is out.
                              Guilty

                              Oops, did I just quote and agree with myself? Yes...yes I did, because that's how I know it goes on all the time. So like I said, even wearing one of those cheap painter's masks you can keep in your pocket is better than wearing nothing. At least it'll keep some of the particulate (fiberglass insulation, sheetrock dust, etc) out of your lungs.

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