Onboard air system for chauffeurs
The idea for our onboard air system for engine and truck chauffeurs evolved during an evening training session.
Discussion centered on breathing protection for operators of our pumpers and elevating platform. While all other personnel operating on the fireground were protected by self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), our equipment operators were not protected.
Although additional portable units could be used by these people, we felt there were some disadvantages. In order to better protect these personnel from smoke or other toxins, we decided we needed a longer lasting onboard air supply for them.
The system was developed around the criteria listed below:
- The air supply must last longer than the usual 30-minute SCBA.
- The chauffeur or tailboard operator must be able to perform the normal tasks necessary on the apparatus during the incident.
- The chauffeur must be able, if necessary, to move the apparatus and himself out of danger while still breathing the bottled air.
- The tailboard operator of
- the elevating platform must be protected the same way.
Design and construction of the air system for each apparatus was relatively simple. The engine was fitted with a quick connect coupling at the pump panel. A positive pressure facepiece with 25 feet of hose was stored in the nearest side compartment. Air supply for the engine was established by installing a 2,200-psi bottle in the open space behind and above the pump panel. Since our truck carries two 2,200-psi bottles of breathing air, the spare bottle was adopted for use by installing a separate regulator.
An air line to the tailboard and two quick connect couplings (pump panel, tailboard) were fitted for use. A positive pressure facepiece and an additional 25 feet of air hose are kept in the compartment nearest the quick connect fittings.
Photo by Marvin Yoch
With the installation of this onboard air system we feel that our chauffeurs and tailboard operator are now protected in the event of exposure to smoke or toxic atmospheres due to conditions at the scene. The system also has the flexibility of allowing the apparatus operators to maneuver the apparatus without endangering their ability to breathe good air.
Thomas M. Bausher