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    Default SCBA - Pros & Cons

    We currently have MSA and Draeger, have had Scotts about 10 yrs ago. Would like some info on which SCBA's you are using or have and give us some likes and dislikes or problems. We are doing some research and would prefer some first hand info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerfire1156 View Post
    We currently have MSA and Draeger, have had Scotts about 10 yrs ago. Would like some info on which SCBA's you are using or have and give us some likes and dislikes or problems. We are doing some research and would prefer some first hand info.
    Dept uses scott 4.5 high pressure. Like the tanks and pack itself. i don't like the face piece because it always fogs before entry withour being on air.

    Burn team most of us use insperions. Love them. Face piece never fogs and simple to use.

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    We had survivairs ... there is a little hinge in the middle of the back that the scotts i have been using lately did not. Man what a difference that little bit of flex could do to make it comfortable. May not be comparing apples to apples .... i don't know the price point between the two. Might have been top of the line vs cheapest.

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    The Draegers we have now, I really like but they are the newest we've had in about 10 yrs. so I might be bias. We havent had any of the newest stuff but the display in the mask. I really dont know what else the newer ones have to offer.

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    Scott 4.5 is what we use. Compatability was big issue in the choice. We border eight other districts and seven of the eight also use Scott 4.5. One has been hooked on MSA for years (they are the same one that still use 3" hose as their primary supply line - the source of a continual back and forth razzing between myself and a couple of their senior people!).

    As an instructor, I get to see lots of packs. We've seen a few of the MSA composit frames break during FF Survival and FAST training sessions. I've seen more than one Draeger alarm malfunction, I don't see too many Survivair or Interspiros any more. IMHO, most every other mfgr has a better voice system than the Scotts. With Scott it sounds like you are talking through a wool blanket without the voice box, and with the voicebox it sounds like a 1960's AM transistor radio (remember them?).
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

    George S. Patton

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    We are running Scott NxG2's. But after my last bout with Scott's customer service, (or lack thereof), i think we are all done with Scott. Great product and features, but the customer service department leaves much to be desired. The local rep i dealt with, Brandon Millan here in the North East listened to my issue, then opted to blow me off. Never returned numerous emails or phone calls. We ended up spending $400.00 out of pocket for repairs on a pack. And worst of all, the part should have been a warranty issue.

    I spoke to MSA and i was impressed with the people there. That is where our money will be going next.

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    Interesting. WE have been using 5 year old Scotts. Now it looks like my application for six more scba is being approved (hopefully) and will probably want to be able to cross reference with our current ones. My complaint about the Scott is that they fog up immediately and their positive pressure leaves a bit to be desired.

    May consider going completely with another make however.

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    We were awarded new SCBA 2 years ago . We had a head to head test with Scott, Sperian & MSA. We held a large training burn on a donated old home, so the guys got to rotate through the different packs in interior fire conditions & roof work.
    The guys preferred the fit of the sperian pack frame , but didn't like the face-masks. they scored them 3rd overall.

    The scott was uncomfortable to wear , the face-mask fogged and the voice amps sucked.
    The heads up display went south after two hours of testing. Don't like the tab lock on the bottles found them hard to deal with with gloves on.
    Rep insisted he had to get $5650.00 per pack after initial quote of $5900.00 plus $800.00 ea. for the spare bottles

    MSA came out on top in the overall score with relative comfort and ease of use . The guys preferred the heads up displays , they don't need the voice amps to be understood and the ease of bottle change. The dealer was more than willing to work with us to meet our needs and worked very hard to make us happy with the overall package of packs & spare bottles.
    They quoted us $4750.00 each with spare 4.5 bottle.

    Obviously we went with the MSA package.

    Many of the nearby departments are Scott , but the regional Hazmat team uses MSA exclusively. They had the same response from the scott rep.

    How the rep treats you has a lot to do with the product, as they all need service after the sale. Maintenance should not cost you an arm & a leg and the warrantee support should be strong.
    Last edited by islandfire03; 11-28-2009 at 09:06 AM. Reason: spelling correction

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    We were awarded new SCBA 2 years ago . We had a head to head test with Scott, Sperian & MSA. We held a large training burn on a donated old home, so the guys got to rotate through the different packs in interior fire conditions & roof work.
    The guys preferred the fit of the sperian pack frame , but didn't like the face-masks. they scored them 3rd overall.

    The scott was uncomfortable to wear , the face-mask fogged and the voice amps sucked.
    The heads up display went south after two hours of testing. Don't like the tab lock on the bottles found them hard to deal with with gloves on.
    Rep insisted he had to get $5650.00 per pack after initial quote of $5900.00 plus $800.00 ea. for the spare bottles

    MSA came out on top in the overall score with relative comfort and ease of use . The guys preferred the heads up displays , they don't need the voice amps to be understood and the ease of bottle change. The dealer was more than willing to work with us to meet our needs and worked very hard to make us happy with the overall package of packs & spare bottles.
    They quoted us $4750.00 each with spare 4.5 bottle.

    Obviously we went with the MSA package.

    Many of the nearby departments are Scott , but the regional Hazmat team uses MSA exclusively. They had the same response from the scott rep.

    How the rep treats you has a lot to do with the product, as they all need service after the sale. Maintenance should not cost you an arm & a leg and the warrantee support should be strong.
    Very good. Sounds like you done the best research you could do. I appreciate the info. Keep em coming folks, thanks

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    Default Islandfire-god

    Islandfire is always on the cutting edge and going the extra mile. Even with communications. Kinda like somekind of fire service god. He's so disgusting it makes me sick. LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post
    Islandfire is always on the cutting edge and going the extra mile. Even with communications. Kinda like somekind of fire service god. He's so disgusting it makes me sick. LOL
    I honestly wish that we could have performed an exercise similar to his. Here, it seems its getting harder and harder to perform live burns due to the air quality issues, which I think is important, but again getting harder to do. I would like to continue hearing more of this information, the best is from the field not a rep who talks a good talk.

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    Smile

    Your right. I have a suspicion that IslandFire is one of the top fire authorities on the Maine coastline. (I think its Maine anyway) He went through a lot of the same process when deciding on which radio manufacturer to choose. Pretty much got me convinced on the same manufacturer, but so many of our mutual aid are comfortable with only one manufacturer. The big M.

    After a little investigation myself I too am siding with Islandfires's selection. Am thinking about if possible to go with our preference and may make the rest be satisfied with the repeaters and pagers. The mobiles and handhelds with Islands choice.

    So when Island does his research, frankly its good enough for me. Even if he's a goody two shoes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post
    Islandfire is always on the cutting edge and going the extra mile. Even with communications. Kinda like somekind of fire service god. He's so disgusting it makes me sick. LOL
    Nope not at all Jam:
    Being a Mainah ,I believe in giving everything a fair chance at getting our $$$. They have to earn our confidence that their products will do what they claim under actual working conditions and will last without us spending a ton of money to keep it in service.

    It's nice to see a piece of equipment at a trade show and listen to the sales rep claim it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. We tell any rep right up front that we will require units for evaluation and we will put them through their paces.

    We also tell the reps to bring us their "A" game and we will evaluate it fairly.
    Brand allegiance to any manufacturer is not something that will necessarily get you the best product for your department.

    Some reps have learned that much to their surprise the product they sell is not the best when run through a fair head to head competition, after we show them the results of our test.

    Last year our RFP for radio equipment went out to five vendors that could meet our specs.
    After evaluating three different manufacturers equipment we made our choice to go with Tait out of New Zealand. They are a huge presence in the Pacific/Asian market.
    Our long time Kenwood dealer admitted that his product couldn't compare to the quality of their portable radios and was quite a bit more $$. His technician even admitted that Tait builds the radio everyone one else should be making after taking one apart and looking at the internal construction. Sometimes you just have to look outside the conventional box to find a better product.
    Since our purchase, several nearby depts have switched radio brands including the state capitol 's Fire/EMS & police departments.

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    I tried carefully not to mention the brand names as the tests were done by you. In my opening discussions with the dealer of Tait (I never heard of them till you mentioned them to me), he mentioned how the Omaha fire and police have switched a bulk of their radios to Tait. There was some friction from the Sheriffs office I believe, but anyway it seems Tait is becoming the preferred radio communications make in Omaha now.

    In my small county, the departments and sheriff all believe that Motorola is the Rolex of radios and if we can spend grant money why not go for what they want. Now the state contract pricing comes into effect here. I asked Michael Paddock the director of grants for DHS on one of his webinars IF soliciting different quotes was still needed and he replied "NO, that the feds and state agencies had spent a considerable amount of time to set these discounted pricings."

    As I said earlier I still intend to have Motorola and Tait bid and this time I will handle the process. I don't think my sheriff who favors Motorola gave Tait much access. There are some products like pagers that Motorola has the edge with. I am not sure about repeaters yet, but will know more IF, IF I get that regional applicaiton approved.

    I mentioned to the Tait dealer some of your testing results. I will keep you informed on its progress and again I appreciate your assistance with my project.

    Now the thread was about SCBA'S. Maybe we should get back to it.

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    Question Islandfire

    HOw many SCBA's were involved in that purchase two years ago?

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    Both my career and volunteer departments run Scott and have for quite some time. Some of them are getting pretty old and have been updated with the PASS devices (career department).

    I've always had good luck with them. I've had the fogging issues, but a quick purge takes care of that. Other than a few things here and there (every manufacturer has some kind of issues), we've had pretty good luck with them. It also helps I'm a Scott repair tech, so I know what the problem is and how to fix it most times.

    I've never messed with the voice amps. I've learned the limitations of the voicemitter and how to resolve them (putting the mic or person's ear toward the voicemitter). I've always considered the voice amps another thing to run batteries down.

    Like DFD, I've seen a lot of airpacks go through classes I've done and have had similar experiences. To be honest, I don't think you can go wrong with Scott, MSA, or Survivair, as all are reputable packs.

    One thing I would look for is quality of service. If you're buying from a good dealer, you won't have to deal with the company's customer service, which is what they prefer. We almost went away from Scott because of the regional distributor when we found someone else that would sell to us. Since then I've changed who we get service from and can't complain a lick (wish I could have bought them from those guys). On the contrary, I've got neighboring departments that get along with the distributor for our region.

    I've also had neighbors that can't get squat done for other brands, a lot of times because the dealer is so far away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post
    HOw many SCBA's were involved in that purchase two years ago?
    Between the grant funding and some additional department funding we purchased 18 packs and spare bottles. We had four 2002 version 2216"s that were still in very good condition and we decided to standardize operations & replace them also. We now have all 4.5's with carbon fiber bottles.

    Quote by Jam24u
    ". I have a suspicion that IslandFire is one of the top fire authorities on the Maine coastline"

    Thanks for the kudos' Jam, but in reality I'm just an old dog middle manager thats learned from some really talented folks along the way. They taught me to pay attention to the details.
    I have a slight advantage on communications gear knowledge thanks to my time in the Navy having spent a couple of years at a VLF site working on keeping one of the largest radio sites in the world up and running.
    The rest is just plain old common sense in evaluating what is out there and getting the most bang for our limited bucks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by islandfire03 View Post
    I have a slight advantage on communications gear knowledge thanks to my time in the Navy having spent a couple of years at a VLF site working on keeping one of the largest radio sites in the world up and running.
    .
    I knew there was something about you that was redeeming! LOL

    We contacted a Scott Dealer, MSA dealer, and a Draeger dealer when we bought
    airpacks back in 2002. Had them each leave an airpack with us. Each of our folks played with them, and voted on which one they wanted.

    They all ended up with the Draeger.

    Had to two step a Scott dealer, due to the issues Catch had. (same dealer in fact!) He later contacted my board about how I was terrible for doing it in this way, and seeing as we had already bought the packs he was just trying to raise a stink. My board members told him to pound sand.

    Anyways, like was posted, we have had a couple of issues with the PASS devices in the past couple of months. I got tired of the local draeger dealer and went factory direct, and they took care of the issues quickly and in a painless manner.

    I only wish I had been able to get about 6 more, since then we added a station and have had to use donated packs - MSA to equip it. Still better than the departments down here still using demand valve packs.

    On a tangent, Tait is a great radio line. Icom has worked well for us, I love the F70. My son sells them, so I may be a bit biased. I have sold Mother (Motorola) for many years. I use more Icom than Mother.

    Like any radio line, don't buy the cheapest, but don't buy the most expensive either. Your bottom line performance and support ends up in the hands of your LOCAL dealer, whether it is airpacks or radios.

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    As another aside - with narrowbanding going on for the radios, get more than one company involved. You cannot imagine the stories salespeople are telling customers that are complete and total BS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    As another aside - with narrowbanding going on for the radios, get more than one company involved. You cannot imagine the stories salespeople are telling customers that are complete and total BS.
    That is somethig that we are going to have to address due to the switch in '13. I have already heard of the not capatible story and some having to major overhaul their entire line??? Thanks

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    New thread started labeled narrowbanding

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    I'm very pro SCBA

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    pro what manufacturer?

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    Angry hassle

    Quote Originally Posted by auxman View Post
    I'm very pro SCBA
    With me its a love-hate relationship. Mostly hate.

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    Default review

    comin up on 2 years now we had recieved a grant to replace all our SCBAs as they were far out of compliance. When we went about purchasing we had used scott for as far back as the department has been using SCBA. However we decided to give MSA a chance as our neighboring department used them and liked them as well as to give us a bargaining chip. We brought in reps of both of the companys to give us a pitch on their product the only specification we gave them was it had to meet the new standard and be 4500, 45 min bottles. After they went through the pitches we also requested doing a live fire exercise with demo models as well. This is what came of the reviews.
    MSA-the reps came in with a very strong, prepared, and very informative pitch of their product. Given the area of 19 out of 20 departments using scott they knew they had a lot to prove and showed up with their game faces. What we found was the facepiece was very comfortable, didnt fog, the HUD wasnt the easiest to see & didnt like the intermittant showing (fixed by changing the option to steady), the voice comms were top knotch without a voice amp and were rediculously good with one, visibility was very good. The SCBA themselves the regulator with the slide to click was a nice feature although i could see the guides breaking, the bottle was easy to change as it was a quarter turn clamp and the high pressure hose no valve clamp, the RIC connection is the same as the buddy breather so there is only one hose needed, the pack alarm and pressure gauge was very nice as you got a digital nd analog readout as well as many other bells and whistles however the buttons were quite small and difficult to use with normal gloves, also the pack alarm was very soft and not easy to distinguish as well as the bell for the low air alarm was difficult to determine whose alarm it was in a working environment, the pack frame was pretty comfortable however the straps were not they were stringy and not padded well. Within the MSA quote they said they would replace everything we owned from scott (packs, masks, bottles) give us two RIT packs, 2 options (bail out kit, voice amps, pass alarms, buddy breather) and their accountability software (when they found out we didnt have laptops they even said theyd throw in a laptop.)
    SCOTT-The reps came in with an informative pitch however it felt more like this is what the new features are on the same pack you have been using for the last how many years our product sells itself so we dont need to wow you. Their pitch was geared towards durability and not bells and whistles. That said the facepieces were comfortable however they did fog, the HUD is right infront of you and very easy to see its steady on, the voice comms were typical scott not good without the voice amp and with one it was to the same level as the MSA without one, visibility was excelent. The SCBA themselves were very easy for us to understand as it was the same concept weve been used to for the last 15+ years that being said the regulator other than the addition of the HUD to the top is the same quarter turn we had been used to durable and proven, the bottle was the same changing still a pain wit the valve clamp, the RIC connection however is diff than the buddy breather so depending on what your going to do you need to decide which system your going to use not difficult but not standard, The pack alarm and gauge was standard with an analog gauge, however the buttons are large and very easy to use with gloves. The pack is almost the same frame as the previous Air PAK 50 with slight modifications such as donning handles. Scotts quote was replace all the packs we have and 2 bottles per pack (this did not ammount to what we previously had and we could not use the old ones cause they were 2216) we previously had almost 15 spares at the station to changeout this meant that the only bottles we had were the ones in the packs on the truck and the spares on the truck. 20 new style masks and 10 voice amps, 2 RIT packs, the packs were decked with every option they offer including the PAK tracker.
    All after all this info was presented we had a meeting which everyone was asked to fill out a sheet evaluating every bit of both packs side by side. Although MSA reps were by far the best to deal with as well as having very technicly advanced packs in the long run they lost to scotts simplicity. The major things that knocked the MSAs were first the memberships comfort using the scotts. The known durability weve experienced, The pass alarm was noticably louder and very distinguished. The low air alarm on the scott is unmatched with the vibra alert. The ease of using the pass alarm with the large buttons.
    This is what we determined my biggest reccomendation to you is in any purchase this large do your homework have the local reps come to you and in the end determine what fits you best. In our case we didnt go with the sweeter deal money wise because we felt what scott lacked in bells and whistles it far outweighed MSA in durability and simplicity

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