Mayday Monday: SCBA Checks and Firefighter Survival

SCBA testing

Welcome back for another Mayday Monday firefighter survival tip. This month we take a look at a fire from May 3, 2002, that took the lives of two St.Louis firefighters. Here is the link to the NIOSH Report: St. Louis

During this fire, a member failed to respond to an accountability roll call and members were sent in to search for him. While performing the search, a rescue team member became disoriented and ran out of air. After the incident, a test of the initial firefighter’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) revealed it DID NOT pass the test. Now, it is unknown if the unit would have passed before the incident, but this emphasizes the importance of performing a thorough daily check when assuming duty.

A thorough check means checking everything including all of these and more:

  • Pressure in cylinder (Full is full)
  • Date of manufacture
  • Date of last flowtest
  • All straps present and working
  • Backframe not damaged
  • Hoses in good shape (no holes,
  • Face piece in good shape
  • Face piece seats well on regulator
  • PASS alarm works
    • Resets when shaken
    • Manual reset
    • Automatically alarms
    • Manual alarm
  • Air flows upon demand
  • Purge/bypass works

Don’t be satisfied with an “in the seat” check of your most valuable tool. Get it out of the bracket. Put it on. Breath from it!! Remember…a FULL bottle is FULL. Are you willing to gamble that you will not need all of the air?

To honor the memory of Firefighters Morrison and Martin of the St. Louis Fire Department, please review the SCBA Daily Check for this month’s firefighter survival drill/skill. Firefighter Survival begins with the basics. Please send pictures of you and your crew performing this month’s drill/skill to See you next month!

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

Mayday Monday: Face Piece Maintenance and Management

Mayday Monday: A Closer Look at Firefighter Deaths

Mayday Monday: Resolutions for Firefighter Survival

Mayday Monday: Out-of-Air Emergency

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