1. #1
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    Default SCBA Cylinder maintenance question

    A local service company tells me that besides the hydro tests, there is a requirement for an annual visual inspection and if Aluminum before 1988, an annual Eddy Current Test on the threads. Are these required or suggested? Iím in Canada by the way. Thanks

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    you can look at the NFPA 1981 standard on the NFPA website by signing up for a FREE account. I'm not sure if there are anything in Canada that governs compressed air cylinders.

    not sure what they mean by annual visual inspection, you should be looking over the cylinder every time you fill it and put it into your pack.

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    To my knowledge annual visual only relates to SCUBA. I hadn't seen a change in anything. Compressed gas cylinders in the US are governed by DOT in their recertification. So begin in Canada's version of DOT
    Am I being effective in my efforts or am I merely showing up in my fireman costume to watch a house burn down?Ē (Joe Brown, www.justlookingbusy.wordpress.com)

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    CTC (Canada Transport Commission) governs these tanks. For the most part, they reference the same CGA publications that the US DOT regs reference.

    In those, *most* AL tanks made before 1988 are made of an alloy know as 6351 and has been shown to be succeptable to Sustained Load Cracking (SLC). These tanks, with SLC, are known to fail catasrophically rather than in the normal leak before fail mode. To date, the instance of catastrophic failure are small but the damage is catstrophic when they do go.

    To deal with these issues, a new requirements as part of the normal 5 yr requalification cycle was added - an eddy current test. This is in addition to the visual inspection and hydrostatic test.

    To complicate things more - one notable cylinder manufacture (Luxfer) has advocated for annual Visual inspections and annual Eddy current testing. To date, this is merely a recommendation by a single manufacuturer. (more than one manufacture made SCBA and SCUBA tanks out of 6351 alloy). The SCUBA industry has started moving toward annual inspection with eddy current testing in the best case to outright refusal to use the 6351 tanks.

    SO - best bet, to get the exact scoop on this, talk your licensed requalification facility. They can give you the applicable rules for these tanks based on any local/national regulations. I would not trust a sales rep unless they are a certified requalifier for the tanks.
    Last edited by TheFNG; 03-29-2010 at 09:56 PM.

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    Personally, with their history, I'd be retiring them from service - replacing them... If replaced with another al cylinder, the cost is quite negligible: even if you have a small FD and have to do one cylinder a year, it gives you piece of mind that the cylinder won't catastrophically fail while someone is wearing it...

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    Just for your info a visual inspection is done on cylinders when hydro is done since the valve assembly has to be taken out of cylinder anyway. The inspector takes a long skinny light and puts it into the cylinder. The inspector can then look for any pitting on the interior of the cylinder. A small mirror is used to look at the area where valve assmbly is screwed in.

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    Thanks for your reply. I feel some of these licensed requalification companies are implying the annual visual is manditory. I'll keep digging.

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    Sorry but I have a few questions.

    Obviously I am not a fire god that knows all about fire equipment but I never heard of Aluminum fire service SCBA cylinders. Aluminum has a melting point of 1220 F or 660 C. The weakening point would put it about 560 F or 280 C, metal would heat and weaken considerably causing expansion from the inside pressure. Pretty much ruining the cylinder forever.

    So my question is why would these be used in the fire service and are these cylinders common and what areas?

    We do have some old Scott 2.2 laying around but they are steel. We have all carbon-fiber we use now though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BSFD9302 View Post
    Sorry but I have a few questions.

    Obviously I am not a fire god that knows all about fire equipment but I never heard of Aluminum fire service SCBA cylinders. Aluminum has a melting point of 1220 F or 660 C. The weakening point would put it about 560 F or 280 C, metal would heat and weaken considerably causing expansion from the inside pressure. Pretty much ruining the cylinder forever.

    So my question is why would these be used in the fire service and are these cylinders common and what areas?

    We do have some old Scott 2.2 laying around but they are steel. We have all carbon-fiber we use now though.
    The Al cylinders came into my FD around the same time as I did, the late 1980's. An exceptional weight improvement over the actual steel cylinders (which most are actually 1,980 PSI cylinders and do not provide the proper operating pressures to the 2.2's (which require 2,216 psi) They may seem to work, but if you actually bench test them, you'd see the difference, not to mention SCOTT specifically states NOT to use 1980 cylinders on the 2.2's (now the old 1's, 2's and 2A's you could...) 2.2's to my knowledge, were never sold with steel cylinders. Do yours have the round bottoms and the cylinder knob directly in line with the cylinder (protected by a wire 'loop') or are they the flat bottoms?

    Most of the FD's in my area that have SCOTT transitioned to the AL cylinders by the early 90's and some of the original 6351's had been in service up until recently. Although I have not heard of any problem with the cylinders, I have retired the 6351's from service (they make nice table lamp bases!) I've since transitioned to the carbon fiber cylinders (again an exceptional weight improvement!) but still have 20 AL's in service.

    The 'yellow' paint on the cylinders was unique for SCOTTs: it is actually a 2 step process to apply to a cylinder and is a heat indicator (much like the 'dots' on your ladders, the cylinder will turn brown if over exposed to heat - long before the AL is degraded) Also, the plastic facepiece is considered to be the weakest part of the SCBA (ya, we had a batch of bad straps and hoses, but...) and think about the fact that the highest radiant heat should be in front of you (unless you're evacuating quickly) so your body is deflecting a lot of the heat and taking the beating before the cylinder...

    Adding to the fact that a 30 minute 2216 cylinder gave you maybe 15 - 20 minutes working time, the cylinder had a cooling effect as the air escaped out of the cylinder (Mask Confidence, I actually had frost on my cylinder, needed gloves to change it!) Chances of problems were slim, it was well tested before gaining certification fro use (just like the carbon fibers) and they actually hold up much better than the carbons: no automatic end of service like carbons 15 years, much cheaper and the AL exterior is more robust for scratches and such... You'd notice the ugly brown discoloration and not refill it, send it out for repainting / hydro...

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    Most of what you may want to know about inspection
    http://www.psicylinders.com/library/...t/cracking.htm

    http://www.visualeddy.com/faq.htm

    About 6351 You all doing ANNUAL inspection?
    http://www.psicylinders.com/library/...351_review.htm

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    The longer life and durability is one of the reasons why my dept. keeps aluminum cylinders. We even talk to departments that are getting new packs about their "old" bottles. We can use them if they are not 6351 alloy. The county does hydro testing for free but will not touch the 6351 bottles because they don't want to buy the eddy current tester when there are only a few departments using aluminum.

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