Issue 8 and Volume 157.

BY DAVID B. FULMER AND GLENN P. JIRKA Over the past 25 years, the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) has become an essential piece of a firefighter’s personal protective equipment and, quite possibly, the single most beneficial piece of safety equipment used by the fire service. This fundamental piece of respiratory protection has proved its usefulness even as the scope of the fire service has broadened. In addition to the SCBA’s use in structural firefighting, it plays an important role in confined space, technical rescue, and hazardous-materials incidents. Despite the prevalence of this piece of equipment, injuries and fatalities involving fire service personnel reveal a disturbing trend. In confined space emergencies, a leading cause of injury and death to rescuers is the lack of respiratory protection. The same is true for hazardous-materials responders. Several of the recent incidents involving multiple firefighter fatalities list improperly maintained or malfunctioning SCBAs as contributing factors…

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