Section II-3


Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Guidelines


Purpose:  The purpose is to establish policy and guidelines to indicate the proper operation, training, and maintenance of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) in order to ensure the safety of all Three Star Fire Department personnel.


Scope:   Three Star Fire Department will provide full personal protection for its members during fire and emergency operations.  Recognizing the dangers of exposure to heat and flames, to the toxic products of combustion, and to other hazardous materials, the Department provides full protective gear to all members who may be exposed to such respiratory hazards.  This protective gear includes positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus with integrated PASS alarms.  All Three Star Fire Department personnel are required to use SCBA whenever operating in an atmosphere suspected of being “Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health” (IDLH).


All personnel involved in any phase of interior structural firefighting, including overhaul, are required to wear SCBA in conjunction with a complete set of PPE as described in Section II-2.  Use of SCBA is required at all firefighting operations, including those operations involving vehicles, dumpsters, rubbish, Carbon Monoxide (CO) and other gas or odor investigation calls.  This includes inside operations, and also outside positions where personnel may be exposed to smoke or other potentially toxic IDLH conditions.  During these incidents, positive pressure SCBA must be worn at all times unless otherwise ordered by the officer in command. 


Each firefighter shall become qualified in the use of SCBA by first successfully completing and passing the mandated and approved courses as (as class becomes available), required in the Basic Firefighter I Training course.  Then the firefighter shall re-qualify within the department by participating in a mask confidence course, conducted under the supervision of an officer and the department’s training officer.  Upon successful completion of this confidence course, it will be decided if the firefighter has successfully qualified in and demonstrated the safe and proper use & operation of SCBA. 




       A.  It is the policy of the Three Star Fire Department that all personnel responding to emergency calls shall be equipped with, and trained in the proper use and maintenance of the self-contained breathing apparatus because they are likely to respond to and function in, area of atmospheric contamination.


       B.  Fire Department personnel shall utilize only SCBA’s which are of the approved, positive pressure type, and have been certified (hydrostatically tested).


       C.  Fire Department personnel shall utilize SCBA's as part of their overall personal protective equipment.


       D.  Only pure, certified, compressed air shall be used to fill the air cylinders of Fire Department SCBA's.  Cylinders shall be filled and maintained in accordance with these guidelines and CFR/NFPA standards (Section VII-3).


        E.  SCBA air cylinders shall be pressurized to 2200 psi.  The minimum acceptable air pressure for a stored SCBA air cylinder is 2000 psi.  Any time a cylinder is found with less than 2000 psi, it will be recharged.


        F.  Fire Department SCBA's shall be inspected during each training session using equipment check-off list and before and after each use.   Inspection shall consist of full function test including donning mask and drawing air.  Additionally, each breathing apparatus will be cleaned after each use and stored in a “ready-to-use” fashion, which includes all straps being fully extended, untwisted, and properly stored on each apparatus.


       G.  SCBA's or their component parts, which are observed to be worn, defective, or damaged, shall be removed from service immediately, and a suitable replacement SCBA or part shall be provided as soon as possible.


       H.  SCBA's and their spare air cylinders shall be secured to Fire Department apparatus and vehicles in such a manner as to be readily available for quick operations; yet shall be well secured enough to prevent injuries to personnel or accidental damage to apparatus and/or equipment.


       I.  Fire Department policy shall be to provide a minimum of one (l) SCBA and one (1) spare air cylinder for each member assigned to a particular piece of fire apparatus or emergency vehicle, except for the assigned drivers.


       J.  Only personnel in good health and physical condition shall don a SCBA.  It is each person’s responsibility to be physically and mentally prepared to enter confined, hazardous, and stressful areas.  If at any time you feel you are overexerted, ill, mentally or physically unable to carry out assignments, notify Incident Command/Officer or Acting Officer immediately.  NEVER GO INTO A HAZARD IF YOU ARE NOT PHYSICALLY AND/OR MENTALLY PREPARED.


     K.  Each person will use their SCBA under conditions specified by these guidelines, and in accordance with the training they receive on the use of each particular model. In addition, the respirator shall not be used in a manner for which it is not certified by its manufacturer.


L.        All employees shall conduct user seal checks each time that they wear their SCBA face piece. 


M.  Members shall use either the positive or negative pressure checks as specified by the manufacturer. (See Respiratory Protection Program Section II-4)


     N.  No person is permitted to wear tight‑fitting respirators if they have any condition such as facial scars, beards or other facial hair, or missing dentures, which prevents them from achieving a good seal. No one is permitted to wear headphones, jewelry, glasses, or other articles that may interfere with the face piece‑to‑face seal.


      O.  When donning a SCBA, members will always work in pairs.  Apparatus and equipment can and will malfunction.  Under no circumstances will any member of Three Star Fire Department enter a confined or contaminated area by themselves.


      P.   Under no circumstances will any part of the SCBA and/or its associated components be tampered with, modified, or otherwise adjusted for any reason than its intended use, nor will any safety features be bypassed.  Only certified personnel shall repair the SCBA.


      Q.  SCBA will be fully inspected, cleaned and tested following each use.



     A.  The Fire Chief has the overall responsibility for providing a proper respiratory protection system within the Department and is responsible for overall management of the respiratory protection system. 
     B.  The appointed SCBA officer is responsible for ensuring that SCBA's are properly maintained and repaired, and that an adequate number of SCBA's are available for use by departmental personnel. This appointee will ensure all logs are properly maintained.
     C.  The Officer and Training Officer are responsible for ensuring that Three Star Fire Department personnel meet minimum training standards relating to the operation of SCBA's and that there is adequate, regular and standardized SCBA  training provided to each member of the fire department.
     D.  Incident Commanders have the overall responsibility, at emergency incidents, for ensuring that proper respiratory protection is both provided to and utilized by Fire Department personnel.
     E.  All officers are responsible for ensuring that these Fire Department SCBA policies are adhered to at all times by all members under their cognizance.
     F.  All Fire Department members are directly responsible for their personal safety and shall utilize and maintain self-contained breathing apparatus in accordance with this policy and keeping proficient with the use of SCBA’s. 
     G.  Each Fire Department member shall be responsible for the proper donning/doffing, operation, and cleaning of SCBA’s, outlined in this policy.  This responsibility includes the reporting of worn or faulty equipment associated with SCBA’s.