Mayday Monday: SCBAs and Firefighter Survival

Mayday Monday: Shake and Bake: firefighters and SCBAs

By Tony Carroll

The staff here at Mayday Mondays just returned from the FDIC International Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. If you haven’t been, you should make the effort to get out and be a part of the BIG EVENT!!

Mayday Mondays are about firefighter survival. Survival starts with the basics. There is nothing more basic than your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Recently, the fire service received two reports of LODDs that illustrate the importance of the SCBA and being intimately familiar with its operation. The first comes out of New York State where a firefighter grabbed an SCBA from the first-arriving truck. His department uses a different SCBA and he wasn’t fit tested for the face piece. During the firefight, he was located in distress in the basement of the building. He was removed and life saving measures were initiated. His cause of death was “asphyxia due to inhalation of heated products of combustion.” The second incident comes from Pennsylvania. This fire resulted in the death of a firefighter caught in rapid, fire involvement. The SCBA issue, while not a contributing factor, occurred to another member of the deceased firefighter’s crew. During the fire, it was reported that she had SCBA problems and was forced to leave. The reports says:

NIOSH timeline

Here are links to the two reports:

New York | Pennsylvania

We cannot allow the basics to threaten our survival. Please practice.

This month’s drill is the “Shake and Bake.” Take 4-5 SCBAs and break them down into their parts: regulator, harness, cylinder and face piece. Put all of the parts into a pile. Blindfolded members search for the pile, retrieve the needed parts and reassemble the SCBA. The drill is completed after the member dons the SCBA. This is a great way to get members familiar with this vital equipment. Please send in some pictures of you and your crew shaking and baking!! Thanks for participating and see you next month!!

Tony Carroll is a captain with the safety office of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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