Mayday Monday: Know Your SCBA

Firefighter Daniel Groover of Houston

By Tony Carroll

Recently, members of D.C. Fire and EMSt learned that they will be staying with their current provider of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and firefighters will see new SCBA soon! This is good news, as our fleet of SCBA has reached their usable life limit and replacement is needed. That brings us to this month’s Mayday Monday. We focus, again, on SCBA familiarity. How well do you know your SCBA?

We dedicate this month’s Mayday Monday to Firefighter Daniel Groover of the Houston (TX) Fire Department. Firefighter Groover died while battling a house fire on July 9, 2014. You can read about the incident in these two reports:

Texas Fire Marshal Report | NIOSH Report 2014-15

This excerpt from the Texas Fire Marshal’s report from FF Groover’s incident emphasizes the importance of knowing your SCBA and your capabilities:

“Crews operating in IDLH atmospheres must monitor their air consumption rates and allot for sufficient evacuation time. Firefighters must be aware of the time at which the remaining operation time of the SCBA is equal to the time necessary to return safely to a non-hazardous atmosphere.”

This month’s skill/drill is to read the report on Firefighter Groover’s fire while wearing your SCBA. Before you start breathing from your bottle, record the cylinder pressure and the time. Continue reading until you exhaust your air supply. Make sure to record the following times and pressures.





Start time

Start pressure


Low-air time

Low-air pressure


Empty air time


Although this month’s drill may appear easy, it will gather important information. A user will now know how much air they can get out of a SCBA and can compare this to future, more-demanding SCBA training. Please give this evolution a try. It will become a crew favorite and is suited for these hot, summer months.

Please send pictures of you and your crew performing this month’s skill/drill to

Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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