Two Florida Departments Expand Breathing Apparatus Use
Increased emphasis on the need to provide full respiratory protection has resulted in an increase in the number of self-contained breathing apparatus placed in service in both the Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., Fire Departments.
These two departments have used M-S-A demand-type, compressed air, breathing apparatus for many years, and fire fighters routinely don masks upon reaching the fireground.
In Tampa, the units are carried in special racks on the inside of compartment doors. After opening the door and securing it, the fireman pushes a lever to raise the breathing apparatus to shoulder height. Then he backs into it and straps it on. Usually, he hangs the facepiece around his neck with a strap until he needs to use it.
In St. Petersburg, the masks are mounted in holders behind the jump seats on each side of the apparatus. It is easy to slip into the straps on the way to a fire and after the straps are secured, the fire fighter merely gets up from the seat to remove the mask from the holder upon arrival at the fire.
A portable air compressor mounted behind the cab of an equipment truck is used to refill the air cylinders for the masks in Tampa. The compressor is tied in with a reserve air supply consisting of a three-tank cascade system.
A six-tank cascade system in the headquarters station is used by the St. Petersburg Fire Department to refill air cylinders. Extra cylinders can be rushed to the fireground while exhausted tanks are being refilled.
“My men appreciate the added protection that only completely self-contained, demand-type breathing apparatus can provide,” Chief Lawrence C. Lehmann of Tampa commented in pointing out that the primary consideration in expanding the use of breathing apparatus “is the safety of our men.”