Support for Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment
Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
First, NIOSH inspects the SCBA to determine if the firefighter used it in a NIOSH-approved configuration during the incident. If safe, NIOSH pressurizes and tests the unit, along with assessing and photographing the condition of each major component. If any air remains in the cylinder, NIOSH analyzes a sample.
If NIOSH determines the SCBA to be in a safe condition, staff conduct a series of performance tests. This determines if the SCBA was in a NIOSH-approved configuration in accordance with 42 CFR Part 84. Staff conduct further testing to determine conformance to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Airflow Performance requirements of NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for the Fire Service.
In a typical evaluation, NIOSH conducts the following approval tests:
- Positive Pressure Test [§ 84.70(a)(2)(ii)], STP-0120
- Rated Service Time (duration) [§ 84.95], STP-0121
- Gas Flow Test [§ 84.93], STP-0123
- Exhalation Breathing Resistance Test [§ 84.91(c)], STP-0122
- Static Facepiece Pressure Test [§ 84.91(d)], STP-0122
- Remaining Service Life Indicator Test (alarm) [§ 84.83(f)], STP-0124
NIOSH also conducts an Airflow Performance Test, in accordance with NFPA 1981.
These tests generally provide an indication of the SCBA’s overall performance. The SCBA’s condition or special circumstances surrounding the incident determines the addition or omission of certain performance tests. For example, NIOSH may perform a special inward leakage test if there is ambient air infiltration into the SCBA facepiece. NIOSH notes performance test failures but will not disassemble the SCBA to determine the cause of any test failure. NIOSH provides the evaluation’s findings to the requestor in a detailed report. NIOSH also publishes the evaluation reports on the NIOSH website.
Once the evaluation is complete, NIOSH securely stores the SCBA until further instruction from the requestor or a designated authority. NIOSH will maintain all chain of custody documentation per the requestor’s requirements, if applicable.
Please note that the results of testing are part of the public record and NIOSH cannot keep results confidential.
To submit an SCBA or personal protective equipment to NIOSH for evaluation, please call (304) 285-5858. NIOSH will provide details to coordinate the shipping of the equipment to the NIOSH facility. Requestors must ship pressurized cylinders as hazardous materials. Please include a cover letter requesting NIOSH evaluation of the SCBA. In addition, please add an extra note on the outside of the package. This note needs to indicate that only the firefighter SCBA lab can open the package.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please call Jay Tarley (304) 285-5858 or e-mail JTarley@cdc.gov.