Section II-4


Respiratory Protection Program


Purpose:  The purpose is to establish a Respiratory Protection Program that outlines policy whenever respirators are required to be used in an occupational setting. This program is a guideline to prevent employee overexposure to atmospheric contaminants and oxygen deficient atmospheres which are potentially harmful to health.  See Infection Control Section II-7 for respiratory protection against bloodborne and/or airborne infectious materials.


Scope:   Three Star Fire Department will ensure all personnel are proficient in the operational and emergency use of the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus and itís associated respiratory.  This program applies to all Three Star Fire Department personnel that wear respirators and will be adhered to at all times.




Three Star Fire Department Command Staff will:



Three Star Department personnel will:


adequately addressed in the workplace and of any other concerns regarding the






It is the policy of the Fire Department that all personnel expected to respond and function in toxic atmospheres shall be equipped with SCBA and trained in its proper use and care. These respirators shall be used in accordance with the manufacture's recommendations.


Atmosphere supplying respirators operated in a positive pressure mode shall be used by all personnel working in areas where:


        The atmosphere is immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH).

        The atmosphere is suspected of being IDLH.

        The atmosphere may rapidly become IDLH.


All interior structural fires, hazmat response hot zones, and confined space entries shall be considered to be IDLH, unless air monitoring proves otherwise.


Required Respiratory Use


Structural Firefighting

Due to the unknown respiratory hazards posed by structural firefighting, all members of the Three Star Fire Department engaged in interior structural firefighting shall use SCBAs. The SCBA shall remain in use until overhaul is complete and the fire is determined to be out by the Incident Commander, or the respiratory hazard has been eliminated and deemed safe. 

Firefighters who are performing exterior operations at a structural fire may be required to use SCBA depending on the operation and the potential respiratory hazard, as determined by the Incident Commander, Safety Officer, or Company Officer.

Each and every firefighter exhausting 2 cylinders during SCBA operations shall be required to go through a rehabilitation (rehab) period before reentering the structure.  The rehab period will constitute a rest/cool down period, removing respirator to breath fresh air, rehydrate.  Incident Commander or Company Officer on scene has the final approval before a firefighter can reenter the IDLH atmosphere.  This does not preclude the firefighter from having a rehabilitation period is needed before.

Vehicle Fires

Vehicle fires are known to produce toxic gasses that may be IDLH.  Firefighters who are engaged in vehicle firefighting operations shall use SCBA while performing this operation.

Dumpster Fires or Trash Container Fires

These fires (if not classified as a structure fire) when involved in a fire, shall require firefighters to wear SCBA while performing these operations.

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Firefighters who respond to or operate at a hazardous materials incident may be exposed to a variety of known and unknown respiratory hazards. SCBA shall be worn by all personnel operating in the Hot Zone, Warm Zone, and Decontamination Zone as determined by the Incident Commander. (See Section VI-1 Hazardous Materials).

Chimney Fires

Firefighters operating on the roof level at chimney fires shall be required to wear SCBAs.

Carbon Monoxide Incidents

Due to the fact that carbon monoxide presents a potential respiratory hazard, personnel operating at CO Alarms shall wear SCBA until the structure has been declared safe and by verifying with a Carbon Monoxide Meter (future use).

Special Rescue Situations

Special rescue situations may include below grade, confined space, and other areas where the Incident Commander cannot ensure the quality of the atmosphere. In these cases personnel shall be required to wear SCBA. Engineering controls such as ventilation may be used with constant monitoring and may ensure with certainty the quality of the atmosphere in the rescue environment.

Other Respiratory Hazards

Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict the Incident Commander, Safety Officer, or Company Officer from requiring personnel to use SCBA when he/she suspects a potential respiratory hazard. Officers are encouraged to adequately size up the situation and consider the safety of personnel when making decisions regarding SCBA. When in doubt, order SCBA on.

The fire department shall provide the following respirators for fire department use in IDLH Atmospheres:



All personnel wearing respirators must be fit tested for comfort and proper seal.  Because Three Star Fire Department is not able to provide individual respirators, each mask is same make, model, style, and size.  The Respiratory Protection Program Administrator will oversee the fit testing of fire department employees.


Fit tests will be conducted on all personnel who use respirators at least annually, or whenever the Command Staff observes or receives a report of changes in the employee's physical condition that could affect respirator fit, or the firefighter states that the fit of the respirator is unacceptable.


Factors that may affect mask fit are:


All personnel will use their respirators under conditions specified by this program, 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 NIOSH or by its manufacturer.


All personnel will conduct user seal checks each time that they wear their respirator.


Three Star personnel shall use either the positive or negative pressure check as specified by the manufacturer or as listed in Appendix 6 of the Respiratory Protection Standard.


Firefighters wearing SCBAs are not 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. Additionally, the wearing of headphones, jewelry, glasses, or other articles that may interfere with the face piece‑to‑face seal is strictly prohibited.




The Fire Department shall provide personnel with a respirator that is sanitary, and in good

working order. Fire department personnel shall ensure that respirators are cleaned and

disinfected using the procedures recommended by the respirator manufacturer. The respirators shall be cleaned and disinfected at the following intervals:







Maintenance:  See Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus SOG Section VII-3.


Quality and Quantity


Breathing air in the SCBA cylinder shall meet the requirements of the Compressed Gas

Association G‑7.1‑l989, Commodity Specification for Air, with a minimum air quality of

Grade D.  


Three Star Fire Department conducts air quality tests from the air compressor quarterly using  laboratory from American Airworks.  The vendor supplies the Department with a copy of the most recent inspection and certification.


The Department shall assure that sufficient quantities of compressed air are available to refill SCBA for each incident. This shall be accomplished by having ready spares on each equipment.  Additional spares are maintained in ready-to-use status at the fire station. 


Air cylinders for SCBA shall be filled only by trained personnel.


Compressed oxygen shall not be used in open‑circuit SCBA.


Standards for breathing air and hazards associated include: 


Oxygen content (v/v) of 19.5‑23.5%.

Hydrocarbons (condensed) content of 5 milligrams per cubic meter of air or less;

Carbon monoxide (CO) content of 10 ppm or less;

Carbon dioxide content of 1,000 ppm or less;

Lack of a noticeable odor.


The fire department shall ensure that cylinders used to supply breathing air to respirators meet the following requirements:


Cylinders are tested and maintained as prescribed in the Shipping Container Specification Regulations of the Department of Transportation (49 CFR part 173 and part 178) test requirements of five years for steel or aluminum cylinders. 



Three Star Fire Department is required to provide training to those who use respirators. The training must be comprehensive, understandable, and occur annually and more often if necessary.  Documentation of this training shall occur and be maintained by the Training Officer.


The Fire Department shall ensure that each firefighter can demonstrate knowledge of at least the following:



The training shall be conducted in a manner that is understandable to the firefighter.


Re-training shall be administered annually, or when the following situations occur: