NIOSH policy on emergency escape support breathing system or "buddy-breather" device used with open-circuit self-contained breathing apparatus

December 2010
NIOSH Docket Number 147

In 2010, the NIOSH, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL) reevaluated the NIOSH policy stated in the November 6, 1984, letter, Subject: Notice to all respirator manufacturers with MSHA/NIOSH Approved Respirators. This subject was discussed at a NIOSH-sponsored public meeting that was held on December 9, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport and docket 147 was created.

Based on review of submissions made to Docket 147 as well as the applicable OSHA standards, in February 2014, NIOSH revised the policy on the use of Emergency Breathing Support Systems (EBSS), also known as “Buddy Breathers.”

This policy change applies only to self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) meeting the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) NFPA 1981, Standard on open-circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Emergency Services, 2013 edition or subsequent editions. The policy modification supports and encourages best practices in the fire service for the deployment of EBSS.

NIOSH recognizes NFPA 1981, 2013 edition-compliant EBSS systems as a part of the NIOSH SCBA approval for users who have received the appropriate level of training.

Users are able to identify NIOSH-approved SCBA’s incorporating the required hardware by the explicit listing of an additional EBSS statement to the standard cautions and limitations on the approval label. The statement signifies the EBSS components have been evaluated by NIOSH and accepted as meeting the requirements for EBSS under the requirements of NFPA 1981, 2013 edition.

Recognition of these practices and use of EBSS conforming to the NFPA 1981, 2013 edition standard provides a framework for the fire service to formally incorporate best practices in the fire service for the maintenance and use of EBSS and the development of “Buddy Breathing” training programs that conform to NFPA 1404, Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection Training and NFPA 1500, Standard for Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program. Until the personnel training requirements of NFPA 1404 and the occupational safety and health program requirements of NFPA 1500 are revised to address EBSS maintenance and use, NIOSH will require the manufacturer user instructions to provide training information. The authority having jurisdiction should develop standard operating procedures and training requirements to ensure that the EBSS is properly used. Manufacturers submitting application for approval of SCBAs with EBSS systems are advised of the following minimum requirements.

Additional standards:

EBSS systems must be incorporated into SCBA configurations conforming to NFPA 1981, 2013 edition, by a certification organization accredited for personal protective equipment in accordance with ISO/IEC 17065:2012. Conformity Assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes, and services. Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) is that organization at this time.

Additional testing:

All components of the EBSS must operate at the specified low temperature limit without adversely affecting the operation of the SCBA, as determined by testing conducted in accordance with the current version of NPPTL Standard Test Procedure TEB-CBRN-ASR-STP-0219pdf icon.

At the minimum activation pressure with the EBSS receiver line held open to atmosphere, the donor unit must be able to meet pressure-demand performance requirements through the remainder of the air supply as determined by testing in accordance with the current version of NPPTL Standard Testing Procedure TEB-CBRN-ASR-STP-0220pdf icon.

Starting from a full cylinder and prior to the minimum end-of-service-time-indicator (EOSTI) activation pressure the EBSS donor/receiver line will be opened to atmosphere and held open. The duration for which the host unit performance meets pressure-demand performance requirements as determined by testing in accordance with the current version of NPPTL Standard Testing Procedure TEB-CBRN-ASR-STP-0220pdf icon, will be measured and recorded.

Additional cautions and limitations:

The approval label must include these additional cautions and limitations:

EBSS activation or engagement of EBSS in either the donor or receiver mode changes the SCBA use to escape-only, approved service time for either the donor or the receiver is no longer applicable. Additional critical cautions and limitations apply. Refer to section EBSS in the user manual.

At a minimum, these additional caution and limitation statements must appear in section EBSS.

  • EBSS may not be engaged or activated in donor mode after the donor EOSTI has activated.a
  • Users must be fully trained in the operation of EBSS in accordance with a training program conforming to the requirements of NFPA1404 and NFPA 1500.
  • Simultaneous connection of more than two users, one donor, and one receiver, is not permitted.

a Consistent with the requirements of NFPA 1981:2013, EOSTI settings of less than 33% of service pressure will not be permitted; however, higher minimum EBSS activation pressures will be considered contingent upon acceptable notification to the user.

Background Materials

NIOSH revised the policy on the use of Emergency Breathing Support Systems (EBSS)

Letter to Mr. Daniel Rossos, Chairman, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), dated 6/7/12pdf icon [PDF – 78 KB]

Notice to all respirator manufacturers with MSHA/NIOSH approved respirators, dated 11/6/84pdf icon [PDF – 27 KB]

Meeting – December 9, 2010 at Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport

Notice of public meeting; 75 FR 65281; Notice of a public meeting to discuss NIOSH’s Respirator Standards Development Efforts; 10/22/10pdf icon [PDF – 2,515 KB]

Presentation on meeting overview; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 14,051 KB]

Presentation by Jonathan Szalajda (NIOSH) entitled “Reevaluation of the NIOSH policy on emergency escape support breathing system or “buddy-breather” device used with open-circuit self-contained breathing apparatus”; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 12,325 KB]

Presentation by Clint Kaller (LA County Fire Department) entitled “Emergency Breathing Safety Systems (EBSS)”; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 27,838 KB]

Presentation by Deborah Crisher (Virginia Beach Fire Department) entitled “Allied Technology Fire Mayday Event”; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 17,515 KB]

Presentation by William Flint (District of Columbia Fire & EMS) entitled “NFPA Technical Committee on Respiratory Protection Equipment”; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 18,544 KB]

Presentation entitled “Panel Discussion”; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 5,883 KB]

Registration for meeting; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 4,228 KB]

Registration for participants participating via remote access; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 856 KB]

Meeting transcript; 12/9/10pdf icon [PDF – 144,907 KB]

Submissions in Order of Receipt

Submission to NIOSH Docket from DePew (Kerhonkson Fire/Rescue); 12/2/10pdf icon [PDF – 533 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Dunn (Utica Fire Department); 12/2/10pdf icon [PDF – 511 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Godfroy (Lebanon Valley Protective Association); 12/2/10pdf icon [PDF – 421 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Knickerbocker (Cortland Fire Department); 12/2/10pdf icon [PDF – 396 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Schlicher (New York State Fire); 12/2/10pdf icon [PDF – 514 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Irish (Garrison Vol. Fire Co.); 12/3/10pdf icon [PDF – 394 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Simmons (North Chittenango Volunteer Fire Company); 12/3/10pdf icon [PDF – 535 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Chisnell (Virginia Beach Fire Department); 12/14/10pdf icon [PDF – 614 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Ranay (Virginia Beach Fire); 12/14/10pdf icon [PDF – 614 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Hunter (Private person); 12/15/10pdf icon [PDF – 563 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Russell (Virginia Beach Fire Department); 12/16/10pdf icon [PDF – 441 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Pravetz (Virginia Beach Fire Department); 12/13/10pdf icon [PDF – 483 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Wade (Virginia Beach Fire & Rescue); 12/14/10pdf icon [PDF – 603 KB]

Submission to NIOSH Docket from Scott (Virginia Beach Fire Department); 12/14/10pdf icon [PDF – 470 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Brandenburg (Loudoun Country Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management);12/22/10pdf icon [PDF – 1,153 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Rubin (DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department);12/22/10pdf icon [PDF – 647 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Southall (Virginia Beach Fire); 12/2310pdf icon [PDF – 393 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Dorsey (West County EMS and Fire Protection District); 12/23/10pdf icon [PDF – 543 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Scofield (Melrose Fire Department); 12/29/10pdf icon [PDF – 1,127 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Finney (Roseville Fire Department); 1/14/11pdf icon [PDF – 490 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from O’Camb (El Dorado Hills Fire Department); 1/18/11pdf icon [PDF – 547 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Ramirez (LA County Fire Department); 1/19/11pdf icon [PDF – 430 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Moreno (Los Angeles County Fire Department); 1/19/11pdf icon [PDF – 485 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Flesher (Private person); 1/19/11pdf icon [PDF – 404 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Crook (Santa Fe Fire-Rescue); 1/20/11pdf icon [PDF – 442 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Newell (Beverly Hills Fire Department); 1/20/11pdf icon [PDF – 427 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Harrison (Los Angeles County Fire Department); 1/20/11pdf icon [PDF – 512 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from O’Brien (DeKalb County Fire Rescue); 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 508 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Deprez (Sterling Heights Fire Department); 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 620 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from LaPlant (Ventura County Fire Protection District); 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 497 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Matta (Los Angeles County Fire Department) – 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 427 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Duke (Sterling Heights Fire Department) – 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 437 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Mainar (San Diego Fire-Rescue Department) – 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 749 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Bloomquist (West Shore Fire District) – 1/21/11pdf icon [PDF – 1,762 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Tubbs (Santa Fe Springs Fire Rescue) – 1/22/11pdf icon [PDF – 453 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Shafer (Greencastle Fire Department) – 1/23/11pdf icon [PDF – 1,162 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Vita (City of Fairfax Fire Department) – 1/23/11pdf icon [PDF – 472 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Colbert (Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department) – 1/23/11pdf icon [PDF – 614 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Bell (Santa Barbara County Fire Department) – 1/23/11pdf icon [PDF – 684 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Smith (Charlotte Fire Department) – 1/24/11pdf icon [PDF – 423 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Minahan (Lionville Fire Company) – 1/24/11pdf icon [PDF – 350 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Henke (Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District) – 1/25/11pdf icon [PDF – 1,496 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Schiller (City of Ontario Fire Department) – 1/25/11pdf icon [PDF – 319 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Hume (Farmington Hills Fire Department) – 1/25/11pdf icon [PDF – 402 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Hullinger (Troy Fire Department) – 1/25/11pdf icon [PDF – 494 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Rapp (City of Downey Fire Department) – 1/26/11pdf icon [PDF – 417 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Cabrera (Los Angeles County Fire Department) – 1/26/11pdf icon [PDF – 460 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from George (New Haven Fire Department) – 1/26/11pdf icon [PDF – 398 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Rogers (Baltimore County Fire Department) – 1/27/11pdf icon [PDF – 520 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Stott (Private person) – 1/27/11pdf icon [PDF – 422 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Luedeke (Needville Fire Department) – 1/27/11pdf icon [PDF – 521 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Lewis (City of Passaic Fire Department) – 1/28/11pdf icon [PDF – 561 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Erickson (South Montgomery County Fire Department) – 1/28/11pdf icon [PDF – 773 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Bolduc (former chief, Demarest Fire Department) – 1/28/11pdf icon [PDF – 426 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Carter (Ft. Lauderdale Fire Rescue) – 1/29/11pdf icon [PDF – 674 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Walker (Contra Costa County Fire Protection District) – 1/30/11pdf icon [PDF – 492 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Chapman (Los Angeles County Fire Department) – 1/30/11pdf icon [PDF – 508 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Emrick (Los Angeles County Fire Department) – 1/30/11pdf icon [PDF – 516 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Kaller (Los Angeles County Fire Department) – 1/30/11pdf icon [PDF – 27,838 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Welsh (CAL/OSHA) – 1/31/11pdf icon [PDF – 2,944 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Nida (California State Firefighters’ Association) – 1/31/11pdf icon [PDF – 1,315 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Rhodes (Georgia Smoke Diver Association) – 1/31/11pdf icon [PDF – 627 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Lawrence (Department of Homeland Security) – 1/31/1pdf icon [PDF – 646 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Schultheis (Mooresville Fire Department) – 1/31/11pdf icon [PDF – 475 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Sell (Dräger Safety, Inc.) – 1/31/11pdf icon [PDF – 1,416 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Brandell (Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department) – 2/1/11pdf icon [PDF – 542 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Anaya (Private person) – 2/4/11pdf icon [PDF – 734 KB]

Submission to the NIOSH Docket from Corso (Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department) – 2/10/11pdf icon [PDF – 467 KB]

Page last reviewed: December 28, 2010