BREATHING SUPPORT

The open circuit self contained breathing apparatus became available to the fire service shortly after World war 2. There were various attempts to provide breathing air for firefighters including filter masks, supplied air systems (air lines) and closed circuit breathing apparatus (chemical re-breathers). By the 1980's the open circuit self contained breathing apparatus had become the standard although it would be another decade before it was fully accepted by line personnel. 

There are two major types of SCBA system, low pressure (2200 psi) and high pressure (4500 psi), this relates to the pressure in the air cylinder. Low pressure systems hold 45 cubic feet of air good for approximately 30 minutes of use, most high pressure systems hold the same amount of air but the increased pressure allows for a smaller lighter weight cylinder reducing the bulk of the pack. High pressure systems can use larger cylinders up to 90 cubic feet of air allowing up to 60 minutes of use, the larger cylinder is about the same size and weight as a low pressure 30 minute unit. Early units used steel cylinders which were heavy, these evolved to aluminum and then various composites. Modern composite cylinders are less than 1/2 the weight of the original steel ones but there are many fire departments still using steel and aluminum due to the cost of newer units. 

Below are some of the more popular brands of SCBA. A complete SCBA consists of a pack frame, regulator, cylinder and face mask.

 

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SCOTT SCBA 4500 psi

Scott is a popular brand of SCBA. This particular unit is a high pressure system and can use 30, 45 or 60 minute cylinders. The red pouch holds rope used during a search or to allow a trapped firefighter a means to escape out an upper story window. 

SCOTT SCBA 4500 psi

View of the frame.

SCOTT SCBA 4500 psi

View of the cylinder and regulator.

SCOTT SCBA mask

This style mask uses a face piece mounted regulator. It has a large opening allowing the firefighter to have the mask on but not connected to the air supply until the firefighter makes entry. 

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SCOTT SCBA 4500 psi 30 minute cylinder

This is a carbon fiber cylinder.

SCOTT SCBA 4500 psi 60 minute cylinder

This is a composite cylinder.

SCOTT SCBA 3000 psi 15 minute cylinders

These small cylinders are used with supplied air lines for escape situations.

SCOTT Cylinder valve detail
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MSA SCBA 4500 psi

MSA is another popular brand of SCBA. This is also a high pressure system and like the Scott it can use a 30, 45 or 60 minute cylinder.

MSA SCBA 4500 psi

View of the frame.

MSA SCBA mask

This unit also has a face piece mounted regulator.

MSA SCBA 4500 psi 30 minute cylinder

This is a carbon fiber cylinder.

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MSA SCBA 4500 psi 60 minute cylinder

This is a composite 60 minute cylinder.

MSA Cylinder valve detail MSA SCBA 2200 psi

This is low pressure MSA SCBA unit. It uses a 30 minute cylinder. It also has a rope pouch attached to the waist strap.

MSA SCBA 2200 psi

View of the frame.

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MSA SCBA mask

This unit uses a chest mounted regulator, the long hose connects to the regulator. The hose creates some air restriction until the unit is turned on.  

MSA SCBA 2200 psi 30 minute cylinder

This is a composite cylinder.

MSA cylinder valve detail ISI SCBA 2200 psi

This is another low pressure SCBA. It uses 30 minute cylinders.

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ISI SCBA 2200 psi

View of the frame.

ISI SCBA mask

This unit also uses a chest mounted regulator but has a valve on the face piece to let the firefighter breath easier before connecting the hose.

ISI SCBA 2200 psi 30 minute cylinder

This is a fiberglass wrapped aluminum cylinder.

 

ISI cylinder valve detail
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Drager Air Boss SCBA 2200 psi

This is another low pressure SCBA. It uses low pressure cylinders. This particular unit uses a composite cylinder.

Drager Pro Air SCBA 2200 psi

This is another low pressure SCBA. This particular unit has a fiberglass wrapped aluminum cylinder.

Survivair SCBA 4500 psi

This is high pressure SCBA. It uses a composite cylinder.

Survivair SCBA 4500 psi

View of the frame.

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Interspiro SCBA 4500 psi

This is a high pressure SCBA. It uses a composite cylinder

Old SCOTT SCBA 2200 psi

These are older low pressure SCBA using steel or aluminum cylinders.

Old Survivair SCBA 2200 psi

These are older low pressure SCBA using steel or aluminum cylinders.

Rebreather

This is an example of an old closed circuit breathing apparatus.

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Air cart

This cart can be used to power air tools or to supply breathing air to a supplied air rescue harness. It holds two cylinders for a maximum of 2 hours worth of air.

Air cart

This is a close up of the regulator and two 1 hour cylinders. This cart can supply up to five rescuers and / or four air tools. It also has fittings allowing a compressor to be used to maintain pressure.

Air cart (covered)

This is the air cart with a protective cover.

Air cart (covered)

Another view of the cover.

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Harness 

This harness is used with an airline to allow a rescuer to get into confined spaces, it includes points for attaching a rope lifeline and includes a connection for an "escape" cylinder.

Airline and 15 minute emergency cylinders 

This is the airline used with the harness. The small cylinders attach at the rescuers waist and are used to allow the wearer to get out if there is a problem with the airline.

Airline reels

Reels are a more convenient way to carry airlines, particularly when longer lengths are needed. These reels each can hold five 50 foot sections.

 

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