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Effectiveness of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus In A Fire Environment.

Held BJ; Harder CA
NIOSH 1980 Sep:315-356
Existing self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) equipment for fire fighters was evaluated. The effects of a wide variety of temperature extremes conditions, of a stream of water, and of fire extinguishing foam on SCBA operations were measured. The SCBA was used with a breathing machine set at a moderate to heavy work rate of 52 liters per minute for most of the tests. All of the SCBA models tested experienced some damage or malfunction under some of the temperature tests conducted. All SCBA units tested operated satisfactorily when exposed to a relatively high water pressure, except for one positive pressure model which went very negative in the facepiece, although it did continue to operate. All of the positive pressure units tested continued to operate for the length of the test when exposed to fire extinguishing foam, although four of the models went to negative pressure in the facepiece during inhalation and two units went so negative that breathing would have been difficult for anyone wearing the facepiece. The authors recommend that oxygen be used for fire fighting only when used with the proper closed circuit apparatus, that fire fighters using closed circuit breathing apparatus keep exposed hair to a minimum, that fire fighters not getting a tight facepiece to face seal with a particular model not be permitted to use that model, and that the component parts of closed circuit breathing apparatus be tested for ease of ignition.
Thermal-reactions; Heat-exposure; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Safety-equipment; Safety-engineering; Personal-protective-equipment; Materials-testing;
Publication Date
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment; Research Tools and Approaches;
Source Name
Papers from the NIOSH International Respirator Research Workshop, September 9-11, 1980, Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, Morgantown, WV
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division