Thread: SCBA Comparison

  1. #1
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    Question SCBA Comparison

    Looking for any existing OBJECTIVE studies comparing the current MSA, Scott and Dreager SCBA products.

    Thanks
    LDRTRK

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    I know our Dept did such a study last year in volving I believe Scott, Survivair, Draeger, MSA and I think one other. I have no idea if they would give it to you however
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

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    Default Which one did they choose ?

    We can all learn from each other by sharing items such as studies and topical reports !

    LDRTRK

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    I can not give you a study report but I can tell you my own personal opinion from having used both of them.

    I grew up on Scotts.....then....When I went career I was transitioned into MSA.... My volunteer department stuck with scotts and has the Scott AP50 30 minute bottles.

    When I moved to Florida my volunteer department had MSA.

    My current career job has the NEW MSA Face mounted regulator. I think that these are a very big improvement over the old MSA and even their first face mounted regulator and especially over the @#$%@$# Dragon Fly regulator and alarm. They are relatively user friendly, but one unit takes 1 9 Volt and 4 AAA Batteries, which wear out very very faxt, even if you use the Duracell Copper Tops that are recommended. The heads up display is nice and easy to see. The pressure gauge and alarm are easy to access and read, except with in a Level A Haz Mat Suit. They have also addressed some issues of fit and comfort and the unit over all is very good.

    Having also used the newer version of the Scott SCBA, I will say that if I had my choice, I would stick with the SCOTT. I think it is more comfortable, lighter and very user friendly. I have worn them in Level A Suits and find it very easy to get my hand out of the sleeve and read my gauge. My girlfriend, who was an MSA user for many years has also grown to love the SCOTT SCBA over the MSA.

    With that being said, I will close in saying that you have to have an SCBA that works for your department and meets the cost restrictions. Either MSA or Scott is a good buy and a very trustworthy, dependable and durable pack.

    The other I will not comment on.
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    Default Thanks Stan

    Thanks for the input Stan. The "new" department I joined is researching options and is considering all three packs. I must say that the Dreager is pretty nice. There's naturally a tendency to shy away from it since it is not one of the Big 2, i.e. Scott or MSA. The Dreager does seem to be the most state-of-art pack with the firmware driven status display which provides some neat functions including temp and (I've been told) remaining stay time based on your air consumption rate. The harness is also very comfortable. The mask is nice with a large field-of-view, internal LEDS , and a friendly regulator connection.

    LDRTRK, a.k.a. JAPFPE
    Last edited by LDRTRK; 09-19-2003 at 08:17 PM.

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    Our guys, who put the sets through their evolutions did not find a great deal of difference between the top three, Scott Survivair or MSA. Most said they liked the Scott slightly better (a predjudice perhaps due to the fact our Dept has been using Scott for over 30 years)However Survivair won the contract ,throwing in several extra features and still coming in well below the Scott quote.
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

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    I've been in Scotts all my career so I'm prejudiced.However I can say with absolute confidence that these packs are firefighterproof.My personal pak is an old wire frame 4.5 and it just goes and goes.A nother VERY important consideration is your dealer/service provider.We have an EXCELLENT SP,IPS out of Mass.who has gone out of their way to take care of our needs.I've seen the level of care used in the bench testing and when they come off the bench I know that packs ready to go.T.C.

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    We started out with Scotts and changed to ISI and never looked back.
    The big city dept in our area has MSA, Dreager and Scotts. They just recieved grant money to upgrade and they have picked ISI with the new heads-up display in the mask. I think the main reason they went to ISI is ISI is what most of our county uses.
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    but one unit takes 1 9 Volt and 4 AAA Batteries, which wear out very very faxt, even if you use the Duracell Copper Tops that are recommended
    Energizer is far superior to Duracell!

    They just recieved grant money to upgrade and they have picked ISI with the new heads-up display in the mask.
    What? Heads Up Display? Do you have a website for ISI by chance? I'd really like to check it out. I thought HUDs only came with multi-billion dollar aircraft!
    Last edited by be58d2003; 09-19-2003 at 09:41 PM.

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    Lightbulb

    http://www.intsafety.com/

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    Default Indepent testing

    Intertek Testing does the UL type testing for SCBA at the facility they have near me. They use local firefighters in the testing process. Her is the url for their US region.

    http://www.usa.etlsemko.com/

    I'm not sure where you'd go from there, but it's a start. I can dig a little more if you'd like

    I will pass along a paraphrase of the opinion of a former member who worked there (full time, not just for the SCBA stuff) and was involved in the SCBA testing: The Big 2 (Scott & MSA) are the big 2 for a reason. He only mentioned one other by name, Draeger, and I got the impression from him that Draeger made a good first impression but didn't do well in the long run.
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    Quote "a paraphrase of the opinion of a former member who worked there"

    I'm not quite sure what that means. However, all SCBA's go throught the same testing and either pass (ie NFPA 1981- 2002 certified) or don't.

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    I would check and see what your neighboring depts are using. Compatability between M/A depts should not be overlooked as a factor in what you choose to buy. Personally I teethed on Scott and have always found them to be reliable.

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    Default SCBA Compatibility

    I believe this issue regarding compatibility is overplayed. I am interested in what departments wear, but I'm not going to have that dictate what we should use based on our SOP's. It's interesting to here these web sites comments. They are all personal and variable.
    I have noticed that "Survivair" was not mentioned here. From my understanding they are one of the top three in SCBA manufacture. They are extremely dominent on the west coat. Cities like LA City and LA County use them as well as the City of Montreal some 1800 ff's.

    I was given a demo recently, and I was impressed with their commeon sense approach to the 2002 requirements.

    Just my opinion.

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    I have used MSA and Survivair before with other Depts, Scott is prefered with my Dept, but personally with the various new sets I find most of them excellent.
    A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall

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    Default Re: SCBA Compatibility

    Originally posted by ppeadvice
    I believe this issue regarding compatibility is overplayed. I am interested in what departments wear, but I'm not going to have that dictate what we should use based on our SOP's. It's interesting to here these web sites comments. They are all personal and variable.
    I have noticed that "Survivair" was not mentioned here. From my understanding they are one of the top three in SCBA manufacture. They are extremely dominent on the west coat. Cities like LA City and LA County use them as well as the City of Montreal some 1800 ff's.

    I was given a demo recently, and I was impressed with their commeon sense approach to the 2002 requirements.

    Just my opinion.
    The compatability issue is going to vary in importance from region to region. My department calls for MA on about 50% of our structure fires, and we run automatic aid to a nieghboring department. It is extremly important that our SCBA match what that department uses, as quite often we will be on scene right as they are, sometimes before, and our crew will either be the initial attack crew or the RIT crew even in the nieghboring district. The ability to use thier bottles is extremly important for us and them. The MA is run in our tanker, and it carries 2 airpacks and no spare bottles, so they relay on the other department to provide bottles.

    I couldn't help but notice your user name and the "tone" of your response, do you sell survivair or work for them?

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    Default SCBA Compatability

    No Radioguy. Are you??
    I am curious since I have heard and seen departments sharing cylinders from one supplier to another. Although I am not up on the standards for SCBA as well as other protective equipment, maybe somebody can shed some light on that subject?

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    No, I just thought your post sounded kinda lika a brochure, my bad. I was just curious, with a user name like ppeadvice it sounded like you may have a strong background in this, juts curious where you were coming from.

    As far as sharing from one supplier to another, pretty much everyone we run with is using Scott so we haven't run into that problem yet.


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    As far as the interchangability of the bottles, I'll tell ya' what I know; The threads on the bottles are all CGA(Compressed Gas Association) standard. I think the high pressure bottles have a longer threaded portion in relation to the low pressure bottles, to keep from overpressurizing a SCBA. I have talked to the NIOSH people about useing the 2216 bottles on a 4500 pack, and the synopsis is this:

    The packs are sent in from the manufacturers for testing to OSHA, NIOSH, NFPA etc. They are sent in the configuration they are designed to be sold/used in. Example- Scott sends a 4500 pack with a 4500 bottle to be tested. Actually, each manufacturer sends a lot of packs. They send one of each version they have, ie. they send in one with a beacon alarn and one with no alarm and one with EBSS, and one with kevlar harness, one with EDPM harness... all are tested as an assembly. What theY don't do is send a 4500 pack with a 2216 bottle, or send a Scott pack with a MSA bottle. (this is important later)

    NIOSH tests and certifies each variation sent as an assembled unit. Those that pass are certified to meet their standards. Any variation that has not been tested is not approved, and voids NIOSH standards and certification. You could not take a Scott shoulder harness and put it on your MSA because you like the way the Scott straps feel. This would void your certification of the unit as well as the warrenty. If anything happened while useing this unit, you would be at fault for modifing the unit with unapproved parts.
    There is a stipulation about "emergency" conditions. Basically it means that if you are on the fireground, and have the option of useing say a 2216 bottle on a 4500 pack because a man is down and you have no 4500 bottles, it is permissable to use the 2216 bottle until the emergency is over. So, if it was an "Emergency" and you had to use say MSA bottles on Survivair packs, it should be alright. However IMPO, planning to use them this way would void the "emergency" clause.
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    Unhappy Compatibility NOT an issue?

    At least in this State,you need to be certified,fit tested,and "papered"for each type of Scba you wear.So if all your neighbors have 5 different kinds of packs you'd need 5 certifications.How's that working on the "I don't care what my neighbors use"thinking?All my neighbors use 1 of two brands so in theory all I'd need to do is "Cert"twice.In reality I carry my own pack so all I need to do is "Cert" once.But with 5 of 6 towns around us using one brand it certainly makes life easier.Makes life easier on maintaince too as we can get one price for "benching"all the packs,instead of each town doing them separately. T.C.

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    We have been doing SCBA comparisons. We are in the process of purchasing 15 new packs. We have been extremely impressed with MSA, and their wireless system. Everything seems to be very easy to fix. As long as you keep a good eye on your batteries. Some of the other SCBA manufacturers, that have the non-wireless system, say that they have around a 3 year warranty on the electrical. I seem to think that if we do have problems with the electrical that it isn't going to be in 3 years, but 5 or 10. Also, it seems to me like you want to minimize stuff on your SCBA pack ie: wires running here and there. Has anybody broke, or pulled out the wires? Has anybody had trouble with the wireless system??? I wonder if the companies that didn't go wireless, will in 2 years. Something to think about...

    Keep it Safe.

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    Donnelly,

    Have you heard any stories about interference messing with the HUD on the wireless packs? We're evaluating new packs and have heard some unverified stories about interference between packs when the users are in very close proximity. Again, nobody could give a specific example for us to research so it may just be competitors trying to discredit the other vendors, but it sounded plausible.

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    Angry

    My dept. has MSA, ISI (two kinds Rangers and Magnums),Cairns, and one Draeger. You never know what you'll have to use because they are scattered on four different engines. So it depends on what engine you go on. Its very frustrating. We are a small paid department supplemented with volunteers. All the other dept.s have mostly MSA. Maybe one day we'll have just one kind of pack, but for now thats what we deal with. I personally prefer MSA because that what I used in Fire School.
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    -EFD840
    I got the run down on the interferance straight from the MSA regional manager. He said that when an airpack is turned on that the HUD can and will sense any airpack around it, within about two feet. So say I throw my pack right next to you, and you turn your air on, before I do, and you do not have your mask, and I do... then my HUD will register off of your airpack. Once we seperate, about 2 to 3 feet, my HUD will sense my airpack, and will stay locked into my airpack. He swore that it works very well, and it is extremely over played by other SCBA dealers. It sounds like everyone of the other dealers wished that they wanted to go wireless, and just didn't attempt it. I really think they all will once they see that it works. There is just too much to get tangled up in with the non-wireless system. I can see it now, somebody getting caught up in wire, they pull out their dykes and snip their HUD electronics.

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    Drager's HUD is wireless so I guess I can't snip it. But to give my two cents on the original question....My career Department up until a few years ago used SurviveAir and after much begging and pleading for real air packs we finally got MSA's and they have been great. My vollie department on the other hand has used Drager for 15 years and they are great packs. I can tell you that Survive Air will be cheaper in price than Drager. But you will get what you pay for in the end.

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