SCBA Air Management

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AIR MANAGEMENT ROAM, the Point of No Return, and Firefighter Situational Awareness

Bend Fire & Rescue Firefighter SCBA Safety & Survival Training

Air Management Training Objectives / Goals • Reduce our chances of having a “Out of Air” emergency • Reduce or eliminate “false” alarms on the fire ground or emergency incident • Increase Firefighters situational awareness • Increase crew and team accountability “We are our brothers keeper”

Fire service SCBA design evolution… How we got here • First SCBA – 1945 Scott Air Pak • 1971 – NFPA requires SCBA • “Low air alarm” or EOST (End of Service Time) set at 25% - continues today • Low air alarm somehow becomes a “time to exit” alarm • Training complacency regarding SCBA use and exit times • Increase in “Out of air” FF emergencies

Firefighter “Out of Air” emergencies • Approx. 5-20 deaths per year • Most are preventable • SCBA emergency incidents (Close calls) not tracked • Changes in SCBA design – – – –

Redundant alarms Bottle size HUD Tracking systems and communications

• 2006 NFPA 1404 - Air Management Training

2005 USFA Report FF Fatalities • • • • • • • • • • •

2005 – 8 2004 – 5 2003 – 6 2002 – 15 2001 – 18 2000 – 13 1999 – 16 1998 – 15 1997 – 15 1996 – 5 1995 - 20

Benchmark events • 12/03/99 – Worcester Cold Storage Fire, Worcester, Mass. • Event began with a mayday for two FF running low on air. 6 FF fatalities

• 03/14/01 - Southwest Supermarket Fire Phoenix, AZ • Hose line separation and disorientation leading to FF mayday. 1 fatality and 1 critical injury

Out of Air Emergencies • SCBA Mechanical failure • Entrapment – Structure collapse – Entanglement – Falls

• Disorientation – Hose line separation – Crew separation

• Sudden hazardous event – Flashover – Back draft – Rapid fire progress

• Improper SCBA Training and use

Improper SCBA Training and Use • Lack of understanding actual work times – Cylinder “time” vs. “size / amount”

• Lack of understanding what effects work times – Firefighter physical condition – Work being performed – Entry and exit travel times

• Improper use of the Emergency Reserve Air Supply

NFPA 1404 Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection • 2006 edition includes Air Management training for fire service personnel

Running Out of Air – No air in the toxic smoke environment of today leads to rapid asphyxiation – No air during a thermal insult event will result in immediate and fatal burns to the throat and lungs – No air during a structural collapse means a lack of time for rescue and asphyxiation.

Running Out of Air – No air when lost of separated leads to panic leading to asphyxiation – No air requires the firefighter to breathe the products of combustion – toxic smoke that is proven to be both poisonous and carcinogenic – No air means that even if the firefighter survives the initial assault on their respiratory system the toll on their wellness could be immeasurable

The Breath From Hell • • • • • • • • •

Carbon monoxide (CO) Nitrogen dioxide Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons Formaldehyde Acid gases Phosgene Benzene Dioxins PVC & Hydrogen Cyanide – – – – –

Cyanide concentrations were directly related to the probability of death. Cyanide poisoning may have predominated over CO poisoning as a cause of death in some fire victims. Cyanide and CO may have elevate each other’s toxic effects. Elevated cyanide concentrations were pervasive among smoke-inhalation victims.

• • • • • • • •

Acetyls-aerosol containers, combs, lighters, and pens. Acrylics-glues, food packages, and skylights. Nylon-various household containers, brushes, sewing thread, and fishing line. Polyesters-hair dryers, computers, and kitchen appliances. Polypropylene-bottles, diapers, and furniture. Polyurethanes-shoes, cushions. Polyvinyl chloride-carpet, clothes, purses, records, and shower curtains. Thermo sets-TVs, coatings, toilets, buttons, flooring, and insulation.

The Point of No Return You are past the point of no return if .. you are unable to exit the IDLH environment without using your emergency reserve air and your low air alarm sounding. Or in other words‌.. The point at which you stop being part of the solution and start becoming part of the problem.

Factors Affecting The Point of No Return • • • • • •

Entry Point and Exit point Firefighter Physical Condition and Size Type of work being performed Building layout and size Building contents Unforeseen or unexpected hazards

ROAM: The Rule of Air Management KNOW how much air you have in your SCBA and manage the amount of air you have, so that you leave the hazardous environment before your SCBA low-air warning alarm activates.

NFPA 1404 - 2006 ed.

Three simple things: • Exit BEFORE you use your reserve air. • Alarm indicates use of reserve. • Alarm activation is an “immediate action item”

Factors that affect air supply duration (Work times) • • • • • • •

Familiarity with equipment. Physical and emotional preparedness. Knowing what your air supply is upon entry, and at reasonable intervals as you proceed into the immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) environment. Ongoing evaluation of your team based on air supply The physical layout of the structure and any variables presented as you proceed. Work assignment Understanding how far you have advanced into the structure or hazardous environment and the time it has taken you to get there. Good situational awareness

Rules of Air Management • The heart and soul of air management is knowing how much air you have in your cylinder. • Know it when you go in, at intervals along the way, and make sure you have enough air in your bottle to exit the hazardous atmosphere before your low-air warning bell begins to ring.

Rules of Air Management • You should be out of the hazardous environment before your low-air warning bell begins to ring. Using the low-air warning bell as a signal to exit the hazardous environment is a recipe for disaster. • We want the low-air warning bell to be an emergency alarm, not the false alarm it is today on the U.S. fireground. • Exiting the hazardous atmosphere before the low-air warning bell begins to ring is central to the Rule of Air Management.

Air Management Guidelines SOG / PPI Purpose • The purpose is to establish Air Management guidelines. Air Management is critical to the health and safety of our members. • Firefighters should exit the fire building or hazardous atmosphere before their low air warning bell begins ringing. This gives them reserve air should something go wrong. A lowair warning bell ringing at an emergency scene should be an audible warning that a firefighter may be in trouble.

Air Management Guidelines Definitions •

Air Management: An ongoing assessment of air consumption by individual firefighters and teams who are breathing air from their Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). Firefighters in a hazardous atmosphere must continually check their pressure gauges to know how much air they have left in their bottle.

The Rule of Air Management: Know how much air you have, and manage the amount of air you have left in your bottle so that you leave the hazardous atmosphere before your SCBA low-air warning bell begins to ring.

Hazardous Atmosphere: Any atmosphere which is oxygen deficient or which contains a toxic and/or disease-producing contaminant. These atmospheres can by immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH), or not. – IDLH: Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health

Air Management Guidelines How Air Management Works •

Air management is each firefighter’s responsibility and is closely related to situational awareness. Firefighters must make sure that they have a full (min. 4050 psi) cylinder before they enter the hazardous atmosphere. Once inside the hazardous atmosphere, firefighters must check their pressure gauges at intervals (interior benchmarks), and inform their officer/team leader what their air pressure reading is.

The Officer/team leader should take the lead in air management. Officers and team leaders must make the decision when to exit so that the team is out of the hazardous atmosphere before any or their team’s low-air warning bells begin to ring. There are many factors that affect the duration of the team’s air supply, such as: fire conditions, work rates, aerobic fitness of the team members, and stress.

Air Management Guidelines •

It is the expectation that all Bend Fire & Rescue (BF&R) personnel utilizing Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) will: – Check their air levels before they enter the hazardous atmosphere. Personnel must have a minimum of 4050 PSI in their cylinder in order to make entry into a hazardous atmosphere. This check can be done during the pre-entry r.e.a.d.y. check. – Follow the Rule of Air Management when operating in any hazardous atmosphere. – All firefighters are expected to be out of the hazardous atmosphere before their low-air warning bells begin to ring.

Air Management Guidelines • When a member of any team operating in the hazardous area reaches 50% capacity 225O PSI (Heads-Up Display lights activate with two flashing amber lights), the officer/team leader must be notified. • Officers and team leaders must notify the Incident Commander (IC) or their ICS functionary (Command, Division, etc.) when their first team member reaches 50% capacity (2250 PSI). This allows the ICS functionary to be informed of the team’s air situation and to pre-plan for replacing that team in the hazardous environment.

Air Management Guidelines •

If a team member works into their reserve air and their low-air warning bell begins to ring in the hazard area, the officer/team leader shall immediately report over the radio to the proper ICS functionary (Command, Division, etc) their unit ID, their location, that a team member’s low-air warning bell is ringing, and an estimation of how close they are to the exit.


If a low-air warning alarm (bell) sounds in the hazardous atmosphere, and there is not an immediate radio report from the team whose bell is ringing, that bell should be considered an emergency alarm until proven otherwise. Consider RIT and PAR (Immediate Action Item)

IDLH R.E.A.D.Y. CHECKS • Are our radios turned on, are they switched to the correct channel, and do we know to whom we are reporting? • Do we have the correct equipment, including appropriate PPE for the assignment? • Do we know our air status, and is it sufficient to make entry? • Do we know what our assigned task is and the overall objective of the team? • If the answer to all of the above is YES, you have completed the READY Check and are prepared to engage in your assignment.

IDLH R.E.A.D.Y. Checks • Radio (on and on the correct channel) – check. • Equipment (all PPE, TIC, Tools, Hose line, etc.) – check. • Air (min 4050 PSI, air supply on and FF on air) – check. • Duties (Does everyone on the team know what the assignment is?) – check. • Yes. (You must answer the 1st four to answer YES!)

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS and Interior Benchmarking Firefighters must know where they are in the hazardous environment in relationship to the entry/exit point and must constantly monitor conditions, such as heat conditions, fire growth, the interior layout, the air supply of the interior team, secondary means of egress, locations of potential victims and how the fire attack/search is progressing.

Interior Benchmarking Examples • Location (geographical) • Assignment (primary search complete, fire knockdown, etc.) • Landmark • Event • Intuition • Communication

Special Thanks: •

MIKE GAGLIANO is a Captain with the Seattle (WA) Fire Department, assigned to the Training Division, and a member of the department’s Operational Skills Enhancement Development Team. He has 19 years of fire/crash/rescue experience with the Seattle Fire Department and the United States Air Force.

CASEY PHILLIPS is a captain with the Seattle (WA) Fire Department, assigned to Engine 40. He has served 13 of his 18 years in the fire service with the department and is a member of its Operational Skills Enhancement Development Team.

PHIL JOSE is a captain and a 17-year veteran of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department, assigned to Ladder 5. He has served as a training officer and is a member of the Operational Skills Enhancement Development Team.

STEVE BERNOCCO is a lieutenant and 14-year veteran of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department, assigned to Ladder 10. He has served as a training officer and is a member of the department’s Operational Skills Enhancement Development Team.