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    Default Using SCBAs in water

    Recently a Dept in my area used an SCBA to rescue the occupants in a car that went in to Lake in 15 feet of water. The SCBA worked well other than the electronics are not working now, but my question is has any dept out there done or heard of this before? I understand that SCBAs were not designed for this, but it worked very well in this situation. I was also wondering if any Depts have set a policy on the use of SCBAs this scenario? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FolowSmoke View Post
    Recently a Dept in my area used an SCBA to rescue the occupants in a car that went in to Lake in 15 feet of water. The SCBA worked well other than the electronics are not working now, but my question is has any dept out there done or heard of this before? I understand that SCBAs were not designed for this, but it worked very well in this situation. I was also wondering if any Depts have set a policy on the use of SCBAs this scenario? Thanks!
    Did they actually breathe from it.. or just throw it through the front windshield to get to the occupants?

    I've heard of SCBA's being used (or continuing to be used) in situations where interior firefighters fell in water.. such as pools..etc. I think in these cases, and in the case you're talking about the folks in those situations got very lucky. I can't see any department officially condoning their use in this way.
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    If im not mistaken Scott and ISI will operate down to about 12 feet, it's just not designed to be used underwater. When it does it causes an increase of pressure in your first stage regulator. This in turn might activate most SCBAs bypass. I wouldnt recommend it
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    they breathed from it and worked well from what I understand. I have also heard that if you go past the 1st atomsphere I think it will free flow.

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    I've heard that the old MSAs could work down to 30 feet but I've never had an urge to attempt it.
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    I haven't watched this all the way through, but knew I saw something a while back. Hope it helps.

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    In addition to the video above from the guys in Gresham, there is this video about MSA's in water:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7I2bou9UQg
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    We had this happen in my department back around '95 or '96. A roof over a pool collapsed and there were reports of children playing in the pool just prior to the event.

    Two of the guys (one a retired Lt from FDNY R3) donned their Scott 4.5's and dove into the pool working their way through the debris to do a search. Luckily, there were no victims.

    We have an in-house SCBA shop with Scott certified technicians and both SCBA's were sent there to be torn down, cleaned, and bench tested prior to going back in service.
    I can't believe they actually pay me to do this!!!

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    Theoretically, there's no reason why an SCBA would not work under water at reasonable depths. The regulator diaphragm has no way of knowing if it's responding to ambient water pressure or air pressure. It will continue to deliver air to the facepiece at slightly more than ambient pressure (i.e. "positive pressure"). What happens to the regulator and any delicate parts AFTER it's used in the water might be another story.

    I did some practical testing with Scott 2.2s several years ago and they performed just fine underwater.

    The biggest pratical problem with using SCBA in water is the full face mask. SCBA masks leak a lot in water; mostly due to them being positive pressure and having a high volume of air in them. SCUBA divers typically use low volume masks seperate from a demand type regulator. Another problem with the mask is that it makes it difficult to equalize pressure in the inner ear as you gain depth (and pressure).

    In a pinch, SCBA works in water but I wouldn't recommend anyone try it unless they're good swimmer; they're no deeper than they could easily swim without it; they don't exceed 32 feet unless they're trained as SCUBA divers and they're prepared to follow decompression protocols on surfacing.
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    A couple years ago I watch a Drager rep go over their newest pack. He stated that it could be used underwater "no problem". I do not recall if he mentioned a depth. He said Miami, or Miami Dade (forgot which) had them and that was considered a plus in their purchase decision due to all of the water (pools, and bodies of water) in their area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronsMan53 View Post
    We had this happen in my department back around '95 or '96. A roof over a pool collapsed and there were reports of children playing in the pool just prior to the event.

    Two of the guys (one a retired Lt from FDNY R3) donned their Scott 4.5's and dove into the pool working their way through the debris to do a search. Luckily, there were no victims.

    We have an in-house SCBA shop with Scott certified technicians and both SCBA's were sent there to be torn down, cleaned, and bench tested prior to going back in service.

    Pushing the envelope because it was believed children might be trapped?!?! My god, I can't fathom such an act. Cowboys you are!


    just kidding of course

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    sure the face piece will seal and the reg will work, but wouldnt the exhalation valve invert with the increased water pressure against it?

    then lets not get into how to "dive" with a bouyant cyl on your back

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    The Air Force had a FF LODD in Iraq in 2005, Ssgt Rangel, while attempting a rescue. While similar let's keep SCBA above the surface and SCUBA below.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeatherHed4Life View Post
    sure the face piece will seal and the reg will work, but wouldnt the exhalation valve invert with the increased water pressure against it?

    then lets not get into how to "dive" with a bouyant cyl on your back
    There's no net increase in pressure; the regulator supplies more pressure to the mask in response to ambient pressure.

    Buoyancy isn't that big of an issue. You have to work a bit or hold on to something to stay under.
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    Quote Originally Posted by frozennorth View Post
    The Air Force had a FF LODD in Iraq in 2005, Ssgt Rangel, while attempting a rescue. While similar let's keep SCBA above the surface and SCUBA below.
    FWIW, SSGT Range died from hypothermia; not problems with SCBA.
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    Have used old Scott II's down to 12 feet. Below that, water was leaking in faster than pressure would hold it out.

    They are not made for underwater, so there is no intended use under water.
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    in my academy we went to the pool for a day and brought some SCBA's with us that are no longer used in the field to do this...it does work, although i can't tell you how far down you could go before you run into problems. never heard of anyone doing it on an actual call though.

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    My local dealer had a ton of Scott AP50's (4500) that came in on a trade. I asked if i could have two of them and they said sure. The packs were about 6 or 7 years old and had a good deal of wear on them.

    Neither had the HUD, they both just had the basic PASS alarm which i removed off one of them. The pack with the PASS still attached i put in a plastic garbage bag and then put it in a walk in freezer at my freinds restaraunt. The other pack i put on and jumped into a freinds pool with wearing an AV2000 mask. I swam the length of the pool at the bottom starting at the 4' end and down to the 10' end and then back. Only when i got near the bottom of the deep end did water start to come in around the mask seal. But from the surface to about 8' the pack worked fine with no leaking. I finished the air in the 30 minute cylinder took the pack off and hosed it off and laid it out to dry. I then brought it back into the shop and had them flow test it. It passed with no issues. That was 4 years ago and i still have the pack and still use it for non IDLH training stuff.

    The pack in the freezer stayed there for almost 2 weeks. I then took it out of the freezer and then the bag, threw a cylinder on it and put the pack on with my mask and it worked fine. The initial inrush of air after my first breath was slightly delayed my guess is because the rubber in the diaphram was stiff but after that, the pack function normally. The air was very cold for a few minutes but then warmed up since the cylinder was not frozen.

    So based on my first hand accounts, YES, you could use a Scott AP50 underwater with no real issues in an emergency situation. Being trapped in a flooded elevator shaft, a flooded basement, pump chamber, etc. I would never make it a point to plan on using one that way but if their were no other options? Sure. I would then immediatley take the pack out of service and have it inspected and tested by a Scott service tech.

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    We have a drown proofing class every year where we go to the comminuty pool and jump in the water wearing all of our gear and SCBA. The purpose of the class is to show you how to get out of your gear if you happen to fall in a lake while fighting a marina fire. It is very difficult to stay under water with a SBCA on, and it is very difficult to sink wearing gear. But it does work, no real issues getting air. But then again, we were only able to go about 8 feet deep before the bottle wins the fight and rockets you back to the surface.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    There's no net increase in pressure; the regulator supplies more pressure to the mask in response to ambient pressure.

    .
    right, the ambient pressure INside the mask, but wouldnt the water pressure on the OUTside of the mask be pressing against the rubber flap of the exhalation valve? At least on Scott's and MSA's ? Im not sure how other MFG's have designed their valves.

    Im tempted to dive as deep as I could and see which would fail first, the reg attachment or the exhalation valve

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeatherHed4Life View Post
    right, the ambient pressure INside the mask, but wouldnt the water pressure on the OUTside of the mask be pressing against the rubber flap of the exhalation valve? At least on Scott's and MSA's ? Im not sure how other MFG's have designed their valves.
    'Ambient" pressure is outside the mask. The regulator will supply slightly more pressure to the inside of the mask based on its reaction to the pressure outside the mask (i.e. ambient). It makes no difference if that pressure is generated by air or water.

    Im tempted to dive as deep as I could and see which would fail first, the reg attachment or the exhalation valve
    I suspect you'd fail first. There's really no reason for the SCBA to fail.
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