Home of a mother, wife, writer

A to Z: S is for SCBA


SCBA, or Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus is a device worn by rescue workers and firefighters when entering a hazardous environment(or IDLH). This has three main components: a high-pressure air tank, a pressure regulator, and a mouthpiece or face mask(as an inhalation connection). This is all connected together on a carrying frame or harness.

Joshua Sherurcij [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

There are closed and open-circuit SCBAs. However, the closed-circuit ones are mostly used for longer-duration needs, such as a mine rescue. It’s the open-circuit ones most firefighters would use. These have a fullface mask, regulator, air cylinder(with a pressure gauge), and a harness allowing it to be worn on the firefighter’s back.

air tanks(picture taken by me)

air tanks(picture taken by me)

The air cylinders usually come in three sizes: 4 liter, 6 liter, and 6.8 liters. The 6 liter generally has a working duration of just over 35 minutes(subtracting 10 for safety margin). Of course, the relative fitness and exertion of the worker causes this time to vary. So, it’s important to pay attention to how much air is left in it. These also usually have a PASS device incorporated into the design, to alert a RIT crew of a firefighter in distress.

When I first started writing Flames of Redemption, I was a little worried about what terminology I used. Originally I had used ‘SCBA’ but then I worried people wouldn’t know what that meant(and realize not everyone likes looking stuff up as much as I do), as not everyone is involved or knows someone who is in the fire service. I imagine if I wasn’t married to a firefighter, I wouldn’t know it either(and didn’t before I knew him). I believe I did end up going with face mask, as I was sure pretty much everyone would understand what that was.

Comments on: "A to Z: S is for SCBA" (1)

  1. […] not provide built-in protection around ears and neck. The hood is tucked into the collar, then the SCBA mask is donned, then the hood is pulled up over the head to the seal of the mask to cover any […]

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