View Poll Results: How do you daily test your Scott SCBA?

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  • Attach a mask and breath to test the switch and regulator.

    7 46.67%
  • We charge the regulator but use the by-pass to releive the pressure and test the vibralert

    8 53.33%
  • We only check them after use.

    0 0%
  1. #1
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    Default SCBA regulator testing procedure

    For those of you using Scott SCBA:

    Scott recommends (requires?) that we attach a mask and test the donning switch as well as taking some breaths to ensure proper operation of the final stage mask mounted regulator. We did this for years and then went away from it due to sanitary concerns. Short of issuing the quick disconnect regulators, we're trying to figure out if this is the best method. Of course if its the recognized manufacturer's method it's the "right" one, but anyone else not breathe on the regulators daily due to contamination concerns? We obviously carry more SCBA than we staff on the trucks so no one checks only their pack.

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    You can trip the regulator by firmly hitting it with the heel of your hand where it says "Scott", I assume this replicates the same idea as a breath test.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    For those of you using Scott SCBA:

    Scott recommends (requires?) that we attach a mask and test the donning switch as well as taking some breaths to ensure proper operation of the final stage mask mounted regulator. We did this for years and then went away from it due to sanitary concerns. Short of issuing the quick disconnect regulators, we're trying to figure out if this is the best method. Of course if its the recognized manufacturer's method it's the "right" one, but anyone else not breathe on the regulators daily due to contamination concerns? We obviously carry more SCBA than we staff on the trucks so no one checks only their pack.
    The correct method is the one that's described in the Scott user's manual. When you're doing a complete check, attaching the Mask Mounted Regulator (MMR) to the mask and breathing as you describe allows you to ensure that the donning switch activates properly, and if you're paying attention and know your pack fairly well, ensures that it's not unlocking at too little pressure. It also ensures that air is moving through the inhalation and exhalation valves on the MMR, as well as checking for proper seal of the mask. You should also be turning on the purge to check it to make sure it works.

    As far as your sanitary concerns, you'll see that after each use Scott recommends cleaning of the SCBA, including the MMR and mask. Wash it with soap and water, and then disinfect it with a cleaner that Scott recommends. They used to make what they called a Multi-Wash, but have recently discontinued it. Get with your Scott rep and they can tell you what to use.

    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610 View Post
    You can trip the regulator by firmly hitting it with the heel of your hand where it says "Scott", I assume this replicates the same idea as a breath test.
    Uhhh, no, that doesn't replicate the breathing test.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610 View Post
    You can trip the regulator by firmly hitting it with the heel of your hand where it says "Scott", I assume this replicates the same idea as a breath test.
    Although turning on someone's positive pressure valve by pressing with your thumbs is fun to do while you're standing around bored at training, I don't think it's a good substitute.

    The SCBA is one thing you shouldn't take shortcuts with. Test every element of it, attached, as you would use it.

    I like to attach everything, crank it open, breathe, then turn the bottle off and purge it down slowly, making sure the warning lights and vibralert come on as they are supposed to.

  5. #5
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    i always take breaths with the face piece attached to the regulator and then press the airsaver switch and test the bypass. the slowly purge the system to test the vibralert.


    there is no reason not to test your scba

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    You should breath your regulator and check your SCBA at the start of every shift. Just the other day I had a bad SCBA bottle with a leak around the cylinder and I have had a bad regulator also. At the front door to a fire or at the top of the stairs is not the place to find out your SCBA is not working properly.

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    Here's the dilemma: If you properly check the mask/regulator you potentially contaminate it, this requires a cleaning, which is most often recommended to test to ensure the water/soap/disinffectant has not compromised the regulator.
    We've had exception service from our Scott 4.5's. All are service checked daily, and fully checked after each use or weekly. For the last 8-10 years most have not breathed air to check the regulator due to the contamination concern. Now a new procedure is out calling for this and some are wondering about cross contamination mask to mask when one of the checkers is sick with the flu or whatever?

    Catch 22- Do your packs get checked and cleaned as you describe daily?

    Here's another question: Again, a small crew checks 5 times as many packs as personnel on duty, each day. Do you keep all tanks at 4500 psi? Or let them get down to the 4050 psi (90% NFPA? recommendation)? While it's hard to be against more air, is the added top off filling issues from test use only worth it? Most people would have more "air time" if they lost 20 lbs.!

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    if you are worried about contamination, clean/disinfect the regulator, then do your check.

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    We share SCBA we do not have individual regulators is that the ideal? no but we still check our SCBAs nonetheless. I do not clean the regulator after every time wearing only when it gets dirty will I clean it. I have caught problems with my air pack that I would not have caught if I had not breathed my regulator. So what can you live with the risk of possibly getting a cold or the risk of possibly your air pack not working when you need it to make a rescue?

    And I do not fill my bottle until it gets to 4000 but that is personal preference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Here's the dilemma: If you properly check the mask/regulator you potentially contaminate it, this requires a cleaning, which is most often recommended to test to ensure the water/soap/disinfectant has not compromised the regulator.
    Well, technically you're right. If you're going to check it, I'd clean it first, so the only contamination is yours. At least that's what I do when I do a full check/cleaning.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    We've had exception service from our Scott 4.5's. All are service checked daily, and fully checked after each use or weekly. For the last 8-10 years most have not breathed air to check the regulator due to the contamination concern. Now a new procedure is out calling for this and some are wondering about cross contamination mask to mask when one of the checkers is sick with the flu or whatever?

    Catch 22- Do your packs get checked and cleaned as you describe daily?
    To be honest, ours get a basic check daily. The air is turned on, the purge activated, and the PASS activated automatically and manually. Those packs that it have the HUD checked.

    As far as cleaning the MMR, don't let the moisture thing scare you from doing so. If you shake it out good (don't blow compressed air into it! if you do anything, just blow air through your mouth or turn the purge on with your hand cupped over the discharge holes and into the exhalation hole), you'll get the vast majority of the water out of it. It shouldn't have any problems functioning with a minute amount of water, as it can get some in there from condensation while breathing.

    On my career department, the full function checks and cleaning are to occur monthly and after each use. By use, that typically means a working fire. If they're donned for training when we don't enter an even slightly hostile environment (just fake smoke, or no smoke at all), that's usually not the case. Masks are supposed to be cleaned at the same time, but with each firefighter being issued a personal mask, they're responsible for that. It doesn't always occur, as you can imagine.

    When we do a monthly check, we (the Scott repair techs on the department) will go through it thoroughly. We check all the straps, bottles, hydro date on the bottle... the works. We will even do a field service on the MMR, breaking it down and do a full cleaning on it.

    While the break-down of the MMR is a field service level procedure, you need to make sure you know what you're doing before you do it. If you forget to hook the fork on the diaphragm, pinch the diaphragm, or anything else that causes it to be assembled "wrong", it can screw up how it functions.

    My vollie department is basically the same, but as you can imagine they don't get checked daily. I usually get a guy to assist me and we do full checks and a MMR break-down and cleaning monthly. Otherwise, they are cleaned, disinfected, and a basic check (air flows out of the regulator and a breath into unlock the regulator) done after use.

    Our chiefs on my career department have been kicking around getting regulators for each guy and modifying our packs to the quick-connect hoses. However, with 70-some guys, the cost is a bit prohibitive right now. We are fortunate that we have 4 Scott-certified SCBA repair techs (including myself) and the equipment to do the repairs and full annual function testing in-house, though.

    I've been kicking around the same with my vollie department, but again, cost is a bit prohibitive. I'd only have to convert six packs to the quick-connect, as the other 18 have the dual EBSS. But, I'm going to have to buy at least an additional 8-10 masks and as many regulators. If you've got the money to do it, I'd recommend it, as it eliminates the issues/concerns about cross contamination.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Here's another question: Again, a small crew checks 5 times as many packs as personnel on duty, each day. Do you keep all tanks at 4500 psi? Or let them get down to the 4050 psi (90% NFPA? recommendation)? While it's hard to be against more air, is the added top off filling issues from test use only worth it? Most people would have more "air time" if they lost 20 lbs.!
    We consider anything above 4,000 psi as "full". This is mainly because of two reasons. The first is that the compressor at one of our stations only goes to 4,200 psi. The other is that even if you fill to 4,500, depending on who filled it and how fast, it can drop close to 4,000 psi.

    Having said that, I try to fill bottles slow and easy so that there's less pressure loss due to compression heat in the bottle. By doing so, I can cut the pressure loss by half or more compared to "hot filling" like a lot of the guys do. Most of them just don't know any better.

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    Thanks for the responses. Just looking at proposed changes to the way we've done things for years and trying to get a handle on the contamination thing. The issue is not the pack to pack checks, but having with a small shift, one person might check 20 plus packs, if that person is spreading something, is this a realistic concern?

    Catch22: our career depts sound very similar on this issue, though we're not as large. We conduct daily and weekly checks that basically mirror your daily and monthly. Each shift has a couple of Scott techs who service anything found within their scope.

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    As far as contamination, unless you are coughing or sneezing in there will be some contamination, but it shouldn't be that much of a concern. Several breaths and your done. Especially considering you purge the regulator with the bypass that should help clear things out.


    If there was some kind of epidemic going around I can see altering procedures to avoid contamination, but under normal conditions its my opinion it isn't a giant concern. Guys should be able to realize if they feel sick or feel like they are coming down with something, they need to have someone else do it.

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