1. #1
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    Default 30 minute vs. 60 minute SCBAs

    I have been a member of our volunteer fire dept for 41 years, spent many years climbing the ladder, and spent 4 years as Fire Chief. For the past 20 years I have been the training officer and a Lieutenant. In my early years in the department, we used the 15 minute sling pack like every other dept did. Wasn't the best system, if you had a working fire in a two story building, by the time you got to the second floor, you had to retreat. Out came the 30 minute pack, the perfect solution for a volunteer department. As of late, I've noticed a few dept's in the area going to 60 minute packs. Agreed, they are the best-bang-for-the-buck for career depts, as we all know the career depts recieve the most calls known as workers, and have the best training, whether on scene, or excerise, which gives them the best stamina required to wear and use these 60 minute packs to the max. Give me the respect that's due, the average volunteer dept doesn't have these resources to work with. Especially in these lean years where it's hard to find die-hard volunteers, much less super excerised members to depend on. Remember, the average volunteer departments district includes one and two story dwellings and the highest buildings in their area would be churches. Where do these 60 minute packs fit into these volunteer departments.? They don't. The average volunteer department if they are lucky has five to ten actual working fires a year, maybe one or two that require a real interior attack. The average volunteer responds and suits up, spends his or her 15 minutes or so inside doing their business, comes out, takes their pack off and hits the rehab area to revitalize, before they repack and hit the beast again. I have witnessed, individuals wearing these 60 minute packs, granted they were doing their job, but really being beat when they come out, 80 to 90 degree days with 1000 degree interior fighting take there toll. Not the best outcome, out of those members less than 10 percent can repack and re-enter. The idea is right, but not for the average volunteer department.

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    I would disagree. Most places I know have a 2 bottle rule. You go in, do your 15 minutes of work, change the bottle and do another 15 minutes of work. With the 60 minute bottle, you go in, do 45 minutes of work, and then rehab. If a person can't work 45 minutes straight then perhaps they shouldn't be going in.

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    The average volunteer department if they are lucky has five to ten actual working fires a year, maybe one or two that require a real interior attack. The average volunteer responds and suits up, spends his or her 15 minutes or so inside doing their business, comes out, takes their pack off and hits the rehab area to revitalize, before they repack and hit the beast again. I have witnessed, individuals wearing these 60 minute packs, granted they were doing their job, but really being beat when they come out, 80 to 90 degree days with 1000 degree interior fighting take there toll. Not the best outcome, out of those members less than 10 percent can repack and re-enter. The idea is right, but not for the average volunteer department.
    Don't know where you are located, but if that describes "your average volunteer department"....I'd move.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Certainly no disrespect intended, but our Volunteers do an average of a Working Fire a Week, and most of us are in decent shape considering that we don't have a mandated physical fitness program. Despite being a Chief Officer, and 67 years old, I still pull on a pack several times a month, since we assign Chiefs as sector officers inside, as well as staff positions. My Doctor tells me that he will tell me when I need to quit doing stuff like this, and I'll listen to him, but for now life is good. On the Packs, we try to keep up with technology, and we have things to put up with like "Big Box Stores" where there are a huge amount of square feet under a common roof. In my 51 years of doing this stuff, I've run low on air a few times, and it isn't a good feeling. If you can have higher Capacity SCBA, go for it. I'd much rather come outside with air left over, than run low while I'm inside.


    One other thing. I'm guessing (NOT being critical) that your Department and mine operate a bit differently, since it is rare that the Fire continues to burn longer than 10-15 minutes after we arrive. Almost the only time I have to change or refill a bottle is on a Hazmat or Subway incident. Click on our link below, and go thru a couple of months of our "News Postings" to get an idea of what we do....... There is an Apartment Building Fire on Dec. 10th that shows Heavy Fire from several windows, but the Fire was OUT in 20 minutes.
    Last edited by hwoods; 01-20-2009 at 09:11 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    I would disagree. Most places I know have a 2 bottle rule. You go in, do your 15 minutes of work, change the bottle and do another 15 minutes of work. With the 60 minute bottle, you go in, do 45 minutes of work, and then rehab. If a person can't work 45 minutes straight then perhaps they shouldn't be going in.
    I agree and disagree with your post. I think with more air it puts people in to deep. Meaning they get in and don't pay attention to their air. Like HWOODS says running out of air isn't a good feeling. I have been close and it was a dumb *** move you all have the mindset that I don't need to worry until the low air alarm goes off... That is all well in good but if you get into a commercial structure or even a some of these big houses or what not having a 60 minute bottle will get you in but can you get back out without running out of air? Air management sounds like the next big hurdle that depts are going to attend to. We all might go in with a 30,45 or 60 minute bottle but FF X uses more air then FF S and FF H uses less then FF Y and FF Z uses two times more then FF X. Knowing what your people can do with their SCBA on would be a start...

    And lets face it as the first post says how many times do we all run m/a and see the 300 + FF in a pack? Whay do we let these people in there?

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    To the OP, I believe the actual question you are asking is whether or not your department should switch to 60 minute bottles. You can't generalize as to whether "The idea is right, but not for the average volunteer department." Like Harve said, volunteer departments around here are busy (calls and working fires). Conversely, there are career departments that run less than 1000 calls a year.

    If you all come to the conclusion that 30 min bottles work better for you, great. But if you find that your FFs are too out of shape to wear 60 minute bottles, well they shouldn't be doing the job anyhow. The new Scott packs (with 45 minute bottles )weigh less than the old Scott Pak 2's with steel bottles that I started with. Do some research and see what benefits your department. The answer may come down to what is more cost effective.

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    I think there are two issues being confused here.

    The issue of Being "In too deep", or "Working too long" are training and policy issues. Larger bottles are a safety and functional issue.

    Saying you think the bottle enables the act is like saying guns kill people. Or in a rescue term, it is like saying a 13mm rope encourages you to load it more than an 11mm rope. It is apples to oranges, and not the true root of the issue.

    Regardless of the bottle on thier back, FF's get into trouble every day for a variety of reasons. If I do find myself in trouble, I certainly like to know that the extra air in my pack can buy me another 15 or 20 minutes. In fact, if conserved, I can likely get an extra 45 minutes or more out of that extra capacity. If we look at back at many of the LODD's of the past, the extra time would have allowed enough time for rescue in several cases, and may have allowed lost ff's time to find an escape in others.

    We use 45 minute bottles on our packs, and keep 60 minute bottles in the RIT/Rescue packs. The 45 min is a nice balance between the low weight and profile advantages of the 30, while storing a decent amount of additional air.

    I think the dept must choose thier own kit based on need and experience. However, I believe the career dept who wears the packs for hours on end every day will actually benefit from the 30 min bottles more than the volleys who may only practice once or twice a month, and see a fire now and again. They are the ones far more likely to breathe down thier air in half the rated time.
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    With the emphasis from the fire service powers that be, NFPA - regular lecture circuit guys, etc, look at the Rule of Air Management. While the "rule" doesn't require 45 minute or 60 minute bottles, trying to work within the "rule" requires a change to larger bottles that allow for a greater safety margin or a ridiculously short work cycle with 2216 bottles.

    Second, a lot of this is a staffing issue. We regularly run fires and regularly go three or four bottles, I've seen guys do 9. Granted the bulk of the fire may be knocked down in the first 10 minutes, but we are still doing overhaul, secondary searches as well as dealing with the byproducts of combustion. This work still necessitates the use of SCBA. We do not have the luxury of a "deep bench" in our town, wish we did but we don't.

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    Scarecrow,I've worked numerous incidents over my career where you'd be "done" 15-20 minutes into the job so I certainly DISAGREE with your accessment that"if you can't work 45 min straight,you shouldn't be going in".That being said,we've got BOTH 30's and 60's;like the others say,training and policy will allow you to take advantage of the increased safety of the 60. Of course if you're an "out standing" firefighter you can use a thirty with great success. Look around at what your neighbors use,sometimes common tools AREN'T a bad thing. T.C.

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    The "happy median" most FD in my area have settled on are 45min bottles. Which also happen to fit in the same brackets as old 30min 2216psi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squrleyny View Post
    Especially in these lean years where it's hard to find die-hard volunteers, much less super excerised members to depend on.
    10-4

    Give me da meat & potato firemen of 10 yrs ago over the granola crunchers of today and Chief, I'll remind you how to put a fire out.

    Had 35 members, 25 show to a call.

    Have 80 members, 25 show to a call, but they sure know what we're doing wrong.

    45 min bottles for us, 1 hour on RIT pack.

    We average 450 calls per year, rural / high rise.

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    Where does this 'super' fireman that can make any cylinder lasting 45 minutes while working in a fire? Ill bet 10 grand you can not find him!

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    I strongly believe in the 30 minute bottle for bread and butter firefighting (residential and light commercial).

    It's lighter and easier to move around in. We have mutual aid "tough guys" who just have to stay in the fire and don't want to come out, so they wear those big bottles in. Good for them, but they are always bashing them into walls, doors..etc and most of them are so out of shape that after 20 minutes of real firefighting, they are beat.

    We have a 2 bottle rule. I think it's good that you come out, change your bottle, give/get updates, take a blow, and then go back in. Cycling guys has a definite advantage.

    I haven't tried the 45 minute bottles. I'd be curious to see and try them.

    This air management issue. I know a bit about it, and it concerns me. However, I don't know enough to form a good opinion.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    We have the 45 minute SCOTT II's and we have a 2 bottle rule.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    I guess because I've never posted a message on here before, I didn't realize how many people would read this and post a reply. Let me explain what I meant by an average volunteer fire department. The ones called the small volunteer departments that are really out in the country. I mean the departments where the nearest city or big town is at least an hour away, and if by mutual aid you are called to help a bigger town next door, it's a four or five story building which is the largest in their town. Where the volunteer departments runs on an average of just over 150 calls per year, and less than 10 actual fires a year. The small departments that the tax base pays them less than 60,000 a year to operate the whole department, and the department has to rely on fund-raisers and donations to buy newer apparatus and better equipment. Also where due to the small tax base, there will never be a paid department,and voluneers are getting harder to find. Believe me, we are out there and make up over half of the volunteer departments.

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    I'm a fan of the 30-minute bottles at 4500 psi simply because they are lower profile. Combine the smaller size with the modern composite bottles and it seems like you make the 30-minute bottle last longer over the bigger steel bottles of yesteryear.

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