Thread: Helium Usage

  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default Helium Usage

    I usually make jokes and use sarcasm, but this one is serious.

    I am experimenting with using Helium in SCBA cylinders. My theory is that most fire fighter fatigue comes from excess weight. I figure that if we can make the fire fighter lighter by filling him with helium, he will be less fatigued.

    The only problem I can't seem to overcome is the funny voice on the radio.

    What do you guys think?

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    FiftyOnePride's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    471

    Default

    Can't Helium Inhalation become fatal, or at least cause dizziness and one to become unconscious?
    JLS
    MFC
    51 Pride - R.I.P. Sandy
    Alarm 200644004, I won't ever forget.


    Remember you only have 1*.

    IACOJ

  3. #3
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    15

    Default

    I don't see how you could go wrong with this idea.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    FiftyOnePride's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    471

    Default

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium#Production_and_use

    Although the vocal effect of inhaling helium may be amusing, it can be dangerous if done to excess. The reason is not due to toxicity or any property of helium but simply due to it displacing oxygen needed for normal respiration. One must be aware that in mammals (with the notable exception of seals) the breathing reflex is not triggered by insufficient oxygen but rather excess of carbon dioxide. Unconsciousness, brain damage and even asphyxiation followed by death may result in extreme cases. Also, if helium is inhaled directly from pressurized cylinders the high flow rate can fatally rupture lung tissue.
    I like the thought though, if it were not for this.
    JLS
    MFC
    51 Pride - R.I.P. Sandy
    Alarm 200644004, I won't ever forget.


    Remember you only have 1*.

    IACOJ

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Originally posted by FiftyOnePride
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium#Production_and_use



    I like the thought though, if it were not for this.
    Thanks for this post. I didn't think of this.

    What if I chemically bonded the helium with oxygen? Would I get the properties of both? I am thinking of something along the lines of helygen.

  6. #6
    Disillusioned Subscriber
    Steamer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,475

    Default

    Helium is used in a mix with oxygen (Heliox) for technical diving operations up to certain depths. It eliminates issues with the nitrogen narcosis, but also will cause some other issues. Over 300 feet, it can lead to a "high pressure nervous syndrom" due to helium's tendency to increase nerve conduction. I'm not sure if this could happen over a period of time at atmospheric pressures. High pressure nervous syndrom's a condition that is simply a violent shaking that can be incapacitating. Helium also conducts heat about 5 or 6 times faster than nitrogen, so divers at least, are at greater risk for hypothermia. That could be an advantage for a firefighter though, especially during the summer months.

    There's also a mix called "Trimix" where something like 15% Nitrogen is added to reduce the nervous syndrome issue

    As for the voice issue, there are descramblers available to divers that make their speech understandable.
    Last edited by Steamer; 04-30-2005 at 06:08 PM.
    Steve Gallagher
    IACOJ BOT
    ----------------------------
    "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    FiftyOnePride's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    471

    Default

    There was also talk on that linked page of a "trimix, an air mixture of helium, oxygen, and nitrogen, is used in deep-sea breathing systems to reduce the risk of nitrogen narcosis (high pressure nitrogen having a narcotic effect on the brain), the bends (a very painful and possibly debilitating condition that occurs when nitrogen comes out of solution in blood and collects in joints), and oxygen toxicity at high pressures."


    Perhaps that would work? I really don't know.
    JLS
    MFC
    51 Pride - R.I.P. Sandy
    Alarm 200644004, I won't ever forget.


    Remember you only have 1*.

    IACOJ

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Posts
    1,719

    Default

    Hey George, why'd you pick the Volunteer forum for this nonsense?

    Edit: Never mind...I see now that you are belittling a young Jr.
    Last edited by WTFD10; 05-01-2005 at 12:03 AM.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Originally posted by WTFD10
    Hey George, why'd you pick the Volunteer forum for this nonsense?

    Edit: Never mind...I see now that you are belittling a young Jr.
    No, I'm not exactly belittling anyone. But how pathetic is it that a person could belong to a FD for a little more than an hour and not have been told that we don't use oxygen in SCBA? This particular member has posted idiotic posts in the very recent past.

    BTW, I absolutely learned something today. While I was trying to point out the idiocy of the "oxygen" thread, I had no idea that heliox and trimix were real substances. Their application to mid-depth and deep sea diving are very interesting. Thanks to Steamer for this fascinating information.

  10. #10
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    George, the funny part is that there are still people in this thread who thought you were being serious.

    Need we bring back the "Natural Gas" fire suppression thread?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Originally posted by nmfire
    George, the funny part is that there are still people in this thread who thought you were being serious.

    Need we bring back the "Natural Gas" fire suppression thread?
    That was the whole point. It's unbelievable.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ChiefReason's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
    Posts
    5,636

    Default

    If the department switches their tactics to big water during suppression operations, then I think serious consideration would be given to the divers' tri-mix.(Disclaimer here...kids; don't try this at home)
    When the media keeps referring to the tank thingies on the backs of firefighters as "oxygen" tanks, then I can understand the misconception.(Disclaimer here...kids; the air contained in self-contained breathing apparatus tanks contains about 19% oxygen, I believe) Apparently, they were unaware that "oxygen" tanks will explode when exposed to extreme heat. And its release will accelerate combustion.
    Good information, Steamer.
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber
    mcaldwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Panorama, British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    3,022

    Default

    Originally posted by nmfire
    George, the funny part is that there are still people in this thread who thought you were being serious.

    Need we bring back the "Natural Gas" fire suppression thread?
    Awww Damn, I was just about to ask how we integrate the Helium delivery with our new Natural Gas handlines. You guys are mean.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  14. #14
    Forum Member
    ffexpCP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    909

    Default

    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI


    No, I'm not exactly belittling anyone. But how pathetic is it that a person could belong to a FD for a little more than an hour and not have been told that we don't use oxygen in SCBA? This particular member has posted idiotic posts in the very recent past.

    Would you believe I was an explorer for about 2 years and still didnít know what a halligan bar was? Donít criticize the kid for not knowing something. This is what makes people not ask good questions. This only leads to more problems.

    Iím all in favor of smacking a dumbass explorer upside the head when deserved, but I feel this was a genuine question.

    Perhaps he came here for help because he canít get help from his department. Iíve been there, itís not fun. Maybe someone at his station likes to Ďpoint out the idiocyí of his other questions. Now *thatís* the way to keep a youngster interested in the fire service.

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,688

    Default

    Would you believe I was an explorer for about 2 years and still didnít know what a halligan bar was?
    That's a sad statement for your Explorer Post, your department, and yourself. In 2 years, you never once picked up a basic firefighting book and read it? As a fellow firefighter I can only say "Thanks for putting forth the effort".
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Actually, the main hazard of oxygen in cylinders on the fireground is twofold.

    First, oxygen is the ultimate oxidizer. Oxygen will dramatically intensify any fire atmosphere into which it is introduced (see: oxyacetylene torch). Oxygen can also cause certain hydrocarbon substances to spontaneously ignite. Oxygen can also collect in clothing and turnout gear, causing them to ignite in a fire atmosphere.

    Secondly, oxygen can cause an altered mental state in fire fighters who are inhaling a 100% oxygen atmosphere. I am familiar with one incident where this mistakenly occurred many years ago. It was like there were a number of drunken fire fighters. Hyoperoxygenation in a person for a non-medical reason is not a good thing.

  17. #17
    Forum Member
    ffexpCP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    909

    Default

    Originally posted by Bones42
    That's a sad statement for your Explorer Post, your department, and yourself. In 2 years, you never once picked up a basic firefighting book and read it? As a fellow firefighter I can only say "Thanks for putting forth the effort".
    My post is the most dysfunctional group I was ever a part of. We had 3 different groups of advisors within my first year. I wanted to learn, while the advisors just used the explorers as an excuse to get out of doing station chores and had no interest in the group. I came to the station whenever we were allowed. Then the advisors told us to stop coming to extra events. We are now only allowed at the station twice a month for meetings. Would you believe I got yelled at for GOING TO A FIREFIGHTERíS FUNERAL? How about loosing door code privileges because I came in to watch training tapes? We had no books. I tried everything I could to learn but opportunities to learn kept on being revoked.

    Our station is in city hall. I get questioned every time Iím seen there. Did I mention Iím also a city employee, and resident?

    I was active with public education, tours, and fundraising. Now they donít even want to see explorers.

    If I didnít love the fire service, I would have been gone long ago.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber
    dmleblanc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Not the end of the earth but I can see it from here...
    Posts
    2,318

    Default

    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI

    First, oxygen is the ultimate oxidizer.
    Hence the name "oxidizer"....

    I think you may be on to something, George....if a balloon can float with just a couple of pounds of pressure, what happens with an SCBA bottle pressurized to 2216 psi? Firefighters would float off into the stratosphere. Think about it! We could virtually eliminate the need for aerials!
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream ó and I hope you don't find this too crazy ó is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    ó C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Originally posted by dmleblanc


    Hence the name "oxidizer"....

    I think you may be on to something, George....if a balloon can float with just a couple of pounds of pressure, what happens with an SCBA bottle pressurized to 2216 psi? Firefighters would float off into the stratosphere. Think about it! We could virtually eliminate the need for aerials!
    YEah, but before we did that, we would have to make sure that ALL apparatus had enclosed cabs.

  20. #20
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    729

    Default

    Be careful George or the PC police will get you for using the term Helium. In the future either use Personium or He/Herlium.

    Come to think of it Herlium is a good term for what the PC'bs makes me want to do.

  21. #21
    Forum Member
    firenresq77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Northwest Ohio
    Posts
    5,213

    Default

    Thank you, George........ This thread has been good for a laugh. I like it when you surprise me like that!!
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

  22. #22
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Fairfield, CA
    Posts
    105

    Default

    Wait a minute!!!!!

    Unbeknownst to George, he has stumbled on something potentially of great significance that was recently reported in the literature. About 6 to 8 months ago I believe the Journal of Clinical Physiology reported the advantage of breathing a limited amount of Helium (Iíll have to look for the article to be certain of the citation.)

    It seems that the morphology of the cell membrane (particularly a nerve cell) is affected favorably by Helium. The lipid bilayer of the cell membrane contains certain transfer proteins that are responsible for the passage of macromolecules both into and out of the cell. The protein, due to the constituent amino acids, contain hydrophilic and hydrophobic areas. This allows molecules (i.e., glucose, amino acids, etc.) to pass into and out of the cell. For many of these larger molecules the reduction of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) occurs forming Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) releasing the necessary energy for the passage of the macromolecule. Helium, for reasons not yet understood, will collect in the protein resulting in the macromolecules passing through without the expenditure of ATP. The energy released from the reduction of ATP can then be used to power other biochemical reactions. The significance of this is that Oxygen can then be conserved as it is no longer needed as much for the oxidative phosphorylation of ADP to ATP in the electron transport chain. Since Oxygen is conserved, one need not breath as much (i.e., the breathing rate is reduced). The next phase of the research is to determine the optimal concentration of the Helium necessary to decrease the breathing rate.

    The research is still exploring the biochemical mechanism of how the presence of Helium does not affect the production of Carbon Dioxide (produced in the Krebs Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle and Glycolysis) and thus maintains the pH of the blood, which stimulates the chemoreceptors in the carotid and aortic bodies as well as the chemoreceptors in the pneumotaxic centers in the medulla to initiate breathing. Hence, Oxygen is conserved and Carbon Dioxide is produced to stimulate breathing.

    Finally, since there appears to be some newbies viewing this thread, it must be noted that Helium will not chemically combine with any other element or compound. Helium is inert. It is formed by the fusion of Hydrogen under extreme heat and pressure (i.e., the Sun). It can be altered by a nuclear reaction. George was testing everyone and no one challenged it. Nice work, George.
    Last edited by FireH2O; 05-03-2005 at 02:24 AM.

  23. #23
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Nice work, George.
    Story of my life. I don't even know how smart I am.

  24. #24
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ChiefReason's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
    Posts
    5,636

    Default

    So, then, having your roof guys breathing it will not make them lighter, thereby making it safer to be on the roof? Especially a shake or tile roof?
    I thought we were on to something.
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  25. #25
    Forum Member
    FiftyOnePride's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    471

    Default

    And to think, this was a joke that some people took seriously.


    Good info FireH2O
    JLS
    MFC
    51 Pride - R.I.P. Sandy
    Alarm 200644004, I won't ever forget.


    Remember you only have 1*.

    IACOJ

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register