Roundtable: Self-Rescue Canisters

By John "Skip" Coleman

A few years back, I asked a Roundtable question concerning "buddy-breathing." It generated a lot of discussion. One aspect of the discussion that was missed concerns the topic for this month.

As a young ieutenant, I remember the captain of my station having a small "rescue-tank" that he was trying.  It was very light and compact. It consisted of a small 12-inch long cylinder (it could have been a SCUBA "pony-tank" adapted for fire department use.) I don't remember how the air inside made it into the lungs of the firefighter. I am not sure if it had a breathing tube and something that went into or around the mouth or some sort of bite-block that you simply clamped down on with your teeth. I saw it once and remember talking to my crew about it and that's about it. I never saw it again nor do I remember any additional discussions during my carrier concerning rescue-breathers.

There are now, approved self-rescue canisters designed to be used on several of the most common SCBAs used in the fire service. One such device was discussed in an article in Fire Engineering titled "Out-of-Air Emergency: Using Technology to Survive," written by Frank Ricci and Matt Marcarelli. It is a pretty good read and discusses the ins and outs of these devices as well as applicable regulations.

That brings me to this month's question: Does your department allow members to carry self-rescue canisters?

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Skip Coleman: Firefighting RoundtableJohn "Skip" Coleman Fire Engineering; a member of the FDIC Educational Advisory Board; and author of Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer (Fire Engineering, 1997), Managing Major Fires (Fire Engineering, 2000), Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer, Second Edition (Fire Engineering, 2008) and Searching Smarter (Fire Engineering 2011) and 2011 recipient of the FDIC Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement retired as assistant chief from the Toledo (OH) Department of Fire and Rescue. He is a technical editor of Fire Engineering.

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