Thread: Conserving Air

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    Question Conserving Air

    What method do ya'll use to conserve your air to make it last longer at a call? Do you do any exercise while breathing air to make yourself used to it more?
    -Kris

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    In through the nose, out through the mouth during normal working time. We teach a form of skip breathing for when you become trapped. Inhale 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds, inhale 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds. Does not work too well if you are "working".

    Best advice, stay calm.
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    I know this isn't the explorers board but I could also use help on conserving my air. We did training last week and I was sucking up my air way to fast. Any other ideas on how to stop this.
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    I have always been pretty good conserving my air, mainly just by forcing myself to breath slow and gently, but I was wondering if there is anybody that does any additional training with their dept. on conserving their air....
    Kris

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    I had the same problem the first few times I put an airpack on during training drills. Then I was told to inhale through my nose and exhale out my mouth...it seems to be working...and every once in a while I'll inhale through my mouth..
    Andrew
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    Default Practice Practice Practice

    The more you train on SCBA's the more secure you will feel. Most everyone sucks air like mad the first few times you wear one. The more you practice the calmer and more secure you will feel, and you will use less air.

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    Default It takes practice

    Like everyone says, it takes practice. Some people are also just naturally better at it too, exercise has a big part in this. That single reason is why I can outlast more than half of the career guys while working, because I am almost constantly exercising. Just practice and work out!
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    Try singing!! really....As funny as it sounds I sing...talk to the fire.....and also skip breathe..

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    I must say that I hum, talk to myself, and occasionally sing as well this has helped me and I am of the larger stature ..........so good luck with it !
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    Default This might help...

    This might help. If I find myself using up too much
    air, make your lips in a kissing style or bite your
    teeth together. Why? It will take longer for the air
    blow out of your mouth.

    I would also recommend the "in nose, out mouth"
    way. Works well.

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    When I first pack up, I tell tell myself to watch my breathing. I set a pace for myself... And then, once I'm inside, I usually forget about breathing all together, I maintain the pace I set and everything works out well.

    I think most people suck down bottles when they first start using them and in drills because they are thinking about sucking down air.

    An instructor of mine recommended as a drill for everyone to pack up and play a game of kickball. As each player's low-air whistle sounds, they are out of the game. What you will find is that it takes a while for everyone to be out of air. Many people will get a great deal of air from the bottle even though they are engaged in physical activity. The reason? They aren't thinking about breathing too much and so they don't.

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    Simple....Don't breathe


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    Originally posted by MikeF25
    Simple....Don't breathe
    Funny you should say that. I was at a class recently with a couple of guys whose department has competitions to see who can make a bottle last the longest. Lying still, one guy supposedly made a standard bottle last more than an hour and a half. Does anyone here do similar drills? How long can you make a bottle last?

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    Hm..How about getting more cardiovasularly fit? The more aerobic and cardio exercise you do the more likely you are to make better use of your oxygen and become less winded during physical exertion.

    Just a thought.
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    One way to save air is to wait until you are actually in an envoirnment where you need it. How many times do you see firefighters outside, on air before they are even in the fire building? I have seen people going on air as they are getting off the rig. This not only wastes air, it also gets you into "tunnel vision mode" way too early. Anxiety is also a factor. If you are not confident, you are going to suck up alot more air.

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    Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth is the best way to conserve air. I also hum sometimes, slows down your breathing as well. Also like what others have said, confidence is everything. Know your equipment like the back of your ***. The more you wear it the better you will be with it. When I was in class, the instructor made us take our test while wearing SCBA. Let me tell ya, that changes your perspective on things.
    Also I have taught in class before with guys wearing SCBA's with only 1000lbs in them and have them perform tasks just to show how much air you really do have after your bell goes off. Most guys panic when their bell goes off thinking they are going to suffocate if they don't get out right away.

    My best advice is to wear it around the station doing station duties or whatever to get used to wearing it, building confidence, and the feel of it. Practice and see what is the best way. What is good for some, is not always good for all.

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    the method of breathing in the nose and out the mouth works the best. skip breathing involves breathing in and holding your breath for as long it normally takes you to exhale. then take another breath and repeat. training and experience can help a great deal in making a bottle of air lasts the longest. a small set of lungs helps also. performing air consumption tests lets you know how well you are doing and what areas you need to work on. a previous issue of Fire-Rescue had an article on a comsumption test and in the Members Forums here at www.firehouse.com there is another on the same subject. These tests are well worth training for. The kickball excerise works well and I've seen a basketball version of it also.

    In summary Practice, Practice, Practice and Train some more.
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    Originally posted by Dickey
    Also I have taught in class before with guys wearing SCBA's with only 1000lbs in them and have them perform tasks just to show how much air you really do have after your bell goes off. Most guys panic when their bell goes off thinking they are going to suffocate if they don't get out right away.

    While it is good to teach them that they have air left when there alarm goes off. You should also make sure they understand that the alarm means you and your team get out NOW.

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    Best way to strech that air supply is to be physically fit.

    Other tips:

    If you can recognize that you're excited, you'll calm down and use less air. If you're busy thinking about what the fire it's easy to get keyed up and suck too much air without even realizing it.

    Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth works well for me, though I've found that (after some practice) I can skip breathe pretty easily and stretch my air supply whenever I'm not having to give 100% physical effort. I don't save this technique for emergencies.

    As for bottles lasting 1.5 hours or more, I can say MORE is easily achievable. I tried it once and got bored after an hour and a half and quit with lots of air left. Hint - if you get so relaxed that you fall asleep you'll use more air since you can't control your breathing while you're asleep.
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    Yes Airborne, that is what I stress is that you have to leave right now.
    My point is that most newbies think, "Oh my god, I gotta get out of here right f*cking now or I will die!!" and that's not how it is. Yes, don't dilly dally around, but you don't crawl over the guy behind you in such a hurry. You have some time in case something goes bad. My second point I try to get across is you can never practice too much. The more you practice, the more your confidence builds and the more efficient you will be with your air.

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    Default Making SCBA bottles last

    Lots of brothers said it already, but I'll reinforce the idea of fitness. Also, I believe smaller people use less air in general (less to perfuse). I used to find I sounded like I was trying to suck a bottle inside-out between the time I got my facepiece on and entered the building. At that point I thought about the task at hand and breathed normally. For anxiety, I find the nose/mouth theory seems to work, probably because it gives one something to focus on. For exertion, trying to get one big gulp and then trying to slow my breathing down helps me. I also fill my 2216 MSA bottle to 2500 (against manufacturer recommendations). This saved me once. We did a mayday drill where we ran our bottles down to when our bells went off and sat in a smoke bldg blacked out. By turning our bottles on just enough to get a breath but not ring the bell, and then turning it off, some of us were able to get 45 min of time. The first was out in 16 min. but most averaged 25-35 min. Not bad for five minutes of air. Staying calm made a great difference, even in a drill. It took me a minute to get used to the situation and conserve my air. I guess that's why it's called drilling.
    Last edited by 11truckie; 04-03-2003 at 01:29 PM.

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    Best and easiest way to conserve air? In shape and in control. Keep your level of fitness up and your mind on what you're doing.

    Stay Safe, Stay low.
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    Originally posted by cozmosis
    Funny you should say that. I was at a class recently with a couple of guys whose department has competitions to see who can make a bottle last the longest. Lying still, one guy supposedly made a standard bottle last more than an hour and a half. Does anyone here do similar drills? How long can you make a bottle last?
    During classes we did drills where we were on air during a lecture/slide presentation- no activity- and breathed down the whole tank. I don't recall how long we all lasted, but I managed to make it the whole time, about 40 min, without running out.

    We then refilled and did a drill on air, crawling on hands and knees around the perimeter of a softball field (near the firehouse). That level of exertion really cut the time available! By half or more.

    I was also one of those people that could suck a 45 min tank flat in 10 min. Like the rest of the people say practice, practice, practice. I believe I'm getting better.

    I will find out tonight, as I have Mask Confidence and Search and Rescue drills tonight at Intermediate FF class!

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    Focus on relaxing, relaxed fluid movement with a fit body will use way less air. Even when the pressure is on you can still relax your body and work efficiently.

    A tense body will burn way more oxygen maintaining the tension in the muscles. Also this increases recovery time after a period of exertion.
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    My department teaches the "skip breathing" method while doing exterior ops, or when you get trapped. During a recent PPE and SCBA refresher one of our LTs tanked up at the begining of training. An hour and a half later he still had air because he was skip breathing. It works well and can make a tank last a lot longer.

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