1. #1
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    Post Glasses and SCBA!

    How do you handle firefighters who wear glasses and SCBA?

    Just wear it over them? Require them to wear contacts? Let them learn to breath smoke?

    Interested to hear your solutions and thoughts.

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    Scott makes a lense kit for their mask. Cost me $25 about 2 years ago. I then had my eye fit them w/ lenses. They get left in my mask. It was one of the best investments I ever made. Tried contacts but could not get them in. It was too much work for me.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
    member since 1969
    challenge competitor since 1993

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    MSA also offers a similar kit - the lenses for the MSA and Scott kits are a standard size, that many optometrists keep in stock. As for contacts, they are strictly forbidden for usage with SCBA in many jurisdictions.
    Fiberglass forever!! (they won't let us have leather)

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    I wear my mask over my glasses. The wire frames dont cause a seal leak. As a certified SCBA repair tech, I can say that the Positive pressure that is in the mask will not allow the presence of external atmosphere to enter the mask.

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    I got the lense kit for my Scott mask. I find that the way the lense is seated in the mask it pushes the mask off my face slightly preventing a tight seal.
    There are people that say that it makes little difference weather you have glasses or not since you cannot see in a fire anyway. Well I have to disagree. Good vision on the fireground it VERY important at all times. What about sizeup? How about seeing and recognizing hazards anywhere in the hotzone. Vision is very important during overhaul when the majority of the smoke is cleared out.

    I have disposable contacts that I where for about 1-2 weeks straight, night and day. After that time I replace them with new contacts. I have been wearing them for about 7 years and have never had a problem. I have no need to fumble around putting in my lenses when the call comes in at 2AM. I have been considering corective surgery. Maybe someday.

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    [quote]Originally posted by ninja:
    I got the lense kit for my Scott mask. I find that the way the lense is seated in the mask it pushes the mask off my face slightly preventing a tight seal.
    There are people that say that it makes little difference weather you have glasses or not since you cannot see in a fire anyway. Well I have to disagree.



    And don't forget about non-fire incidents that require the use of SCBA.
    IACOJ Agitator
    Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

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    now we got MSAs and my partner(for interior team) we both wear glasses we leave them in the truck or give them to a officer. plus i think my dept to cheap to but a lens kit for me and him. cause that means i can only use that mask.

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    Cool

    My department dosen't issue us our own facepeice, so inserts were out of the question. I ordered rubber military gas mask frames and had my eye doctor order perscription OSHA safety lenses and had them put in. I just strap them on before I put my mask on an I haven't had any problems with them yet.

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    Where did you order the military gas mask frames and how much were they?

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    Thumbs up

    [quote]Originally posted by frankgrfd:
    Where did you order the military gas mask frames and how much were they?


    Hey Brother....I have a pair I'll give you....post your email and I'll contact you and I'll make arrangements to get them to you. I no longer need them. Laser Surgery Rules.


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    Thumbs up

    frankgrfd, I got the frames from US Cavalry. The frames cost about $25 and the lenses I got from Wal-Mart they cost about $25-$30. It was well worth it. I had my fire chief and HAZ-MAT chief both approve them before I used them. They look goofy but, it dosen't matter since I can see!

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    OSHA says:

    (g)(1)(ii) If an employee wears corrective glasses or goggles or other personal protective equipment, the employer shall ensure that such equipment is worn in a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user.

    http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/respiratory_advisor/oshafiles/otherdocs.html

    This puts the burden on the employer to provide the appropriate equipment.

    Further comment from OSHA:

    Q: Can employees wear glasses while wearing a respirator?


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A: Yes, but if an employee wears corrective glasses or goggles or other personal protective equipment, the employer must ensure that such equipment is worn in a manner that does not interfere with the seal of the facepiece to the face of the user. Kits are available from all respirator manufacturers that allow the mounting of prescription lenses inside the respirator.

    Contact lenses can be worn with any type of respirator, but their use is not recommended in dusty atmospheres while wearing a half-mask facepiece.

    http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/respiratory_advisor/oshafiles/faq.html

    NIOSH says:

    Eye Glasses
    Ordinary eye glasses should not be used with full-facepiece respirators. Eye glasses with temple bars or straps that pass between the sealing surface of a full-facepiece and the worker’s face will prevent a good seal, and should not be used. Special corrective lenses can be mounted inside a full-facepiece respirator and are available from all manufacturers of full-facepiece respirators. To ensure good vision, comfort, and proper sealing of the facepiece, these corrective lenses should be mounted by an individual designated by the manufacturer as qualified to install accessory items.

    Eye glasses or goggles may interfere with the half facepieces. When interference occurs, a full-facepiece with special corrective lenses should be provided and worn.

    Contact Lenses

    Several factors may restrict or even prohibit the use of contact lenses while wearing any type of respiratory device. This is especially true of atmosphere-supplying respirators. With full-facepieces, incoming air directed toward the eye can cause discomfort from dirt, lint or other debris lodging between the contact lens and the pupil.

    OSHA is considering a change in their respiratory standard, with regard to use of contact lenses under respirators. Data generated by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is being taken into consideration.

    http://www.osha-slc.gov/SLTC/respiratory_advisor/oshafiles/resp_5.html
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

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    Maplewood - I guess that it must be the state OSHA in NY that says that everyone be issued a mask - I got into the lense kit because I take part in the Combat Challenge and I have to be able to see. All the FD's in my area issue them.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
    member since 1969
    challenge competitor since 1993

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    One of the guys back home is really nearsighted so he has a set of big ol' aviator frames in his mask (probably taped inside the clear part.) The larger frames and lenses make for a bigger FOV and the lack of ear pieces eliminates the issue of the seal. I'm going to have to find out since my glasses come around the 20th.

    Althea Forhan
    Left eye 20/30 (Me squinting)

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    there's only one dept in the county (that i know of) where each person has there own mask. That's a full time dept. If we had more money we'd probably each have our own mask but until then it's okay to share.

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    there's only one dept in the county (that i know of) where each person has there own mask. That's a full time dept. If we had more money we'd probably each have our own mask but until then it's okay to share.

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    Ordinary glasses should not be worn with SCBAas they break the seal. A pinhole is enough to fail the mask during a mask fitness test. Try going to www.altekspecs.com

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    I have glasses and have an insert for my pack. Wearing regular glasses is not only a danger you but a big liability to you and the department if you get injured. I place myself in harms way everyday but I will never do anything to compromise the seal like that. Hay my friends, protect yourselves, talk to your supervisors about this and get inserts.

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    You should never wear glasses or contacts under an SCBA mask. Glasses cause you to get an improper seal on your face and if there is anything in the mask or the regulator (like dust or dirt) it can get under a contact lens causing eye damage. Best bet is to get clip in lenses from Scott or MSA, depending on which SCBA you have. Or do what I do, go corrective lenses free when a mask is on. You really can't see through the smoke anyway.
    It's just a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling.

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    on our dept we are all issued our own Scott face pieces, and since I wear glasses I did some research on the topic and found that Scott makes the inserts. I then asked our chief to purchase a set for me and they did as well as paid for the safety glass lenses to be installed. It is the greatest thing, i know others who wear their glasses under their masks and it's not the best thing to do. I love my insert and actually use it also when i'm playing paintball!!
    Shevais M. Shrum
    Western Wake Fire Rescue

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    Just my thoughts...
    We're an OSHA state, which according to our lawyer, says that you either wear soft contacts or get mask inserts. Having used mask inserts for 9 years in the employ of Uncle Sam, in my protective mask, I wasn't about to go that route. So I went with the soft lenses. They don't give the vision that the hard lenses do, but I can sleep with the soft lenses in, so when we get toned out at night, I just gear up and go.
    Now, we are each issued our own mask (we use Scott), so I know where it's been, keep it wiped down & nasty-free, etc. That might not work for those of you who don't have your own personal mask.
    And not to flame anybody, but just because I'm masked up doesn't mean that I'm going to be going into the smoke, where you can't see much but the glow. I'm on the HazMat team, so we have to be able to see clearly to do our job, look for blue (brown in our case) canaries , plus car fires, etc.....
    Just my thoughts!

    [ 12-14-2001: Message edited by: Tanker06 ]


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    This is interesting to hear a "air pack technician" say it's ok to break a seal. He could never attend a burn class at the PA State Fire Academy with glasses hanging out the sides. Even the rubber straps are forbidden. You break a seal and even with positive pressure masks you can still get toxins in.
    I have the insert in my personal mask, both purchased by my company. Those of us with seniority and interior experience got our own masks several years ago. The Relief Association laws of Pennsylvania allow the "glasses" to be purchased with relief funds so none of our members have to worry about the expense.

    The insert is also great for scuba diving or snorkeling. Just lay it in the mask, so what if it rolls around a little, at least you can see. I used it in Hawaii and the Caribbean and it was great.

    [ 12-14-2001: Message edited by: dragon-fyre ]

    Steve Dragon
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    The respondents who stated that street glasses (or anything else, for that matter) should not break the facepiece seal speak the truth. OSHA's 29CFR 1910.134, ANSI Z88.2, and NFPA 1500 all have sections that specifically prohibit facial hair or other objects from interfering with a respirator's face-to-facepiece seal. All SCBA manufacturers offer some sort of spectacles kit for their products. Only the kit submitted to NIOSH by the SCBA manufacturer and certified by NIOSH for use with that specific SCBA model are allowed to be used. Anything else, including use of street glasses or use of spectacles kits not submitted by the SCBA manufacturer to NIOSH, voids the NIOSH certification.

    There are valid reasons to be concerned if a seal is broken. Even in a positive pressure SCBA, the user's safety can be compromised. Several problems can occur:

    1. Duration can be reduced. No matter what one might think, there WILL be leakage if a seal is broken, whether by temple bars or by facial hair. Air leaking from the facepiece to the atmosphere is air that is no longer available to the firefighter. Reduced duration poses an obvious threat to a firefighter's safety and to his/her ability to fight fires effectively.

    2. A person with a leak could "overbreathe" the regulator; that is, with enough leakage, a firefighter could cause the pressure in the facepiece to go negative in relation to ambient pressure, allowing contaminants to enter. Even though SCBA regulator performance has improved considerably over the years, and the likelihood of creating a negative pressure has significantly decreased, it is still a possibility, depending on the severity of the leak.

    I'm the SCBA Product Manager at Survivair. I'm appalled that in this supposedly "enlightened" day and age, there are still firefighters who think it's OK to break a seal. It never has been, and it never will be, under any circumstances. If you do, you do so at risk to you and your fellow firefighters, and you create unwanted and unnecessary legal exposure for your department. It's not worth it. Just obtain the official, certified spectacles kit made for whatever SCBA your department uses.

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