Evaluating new SCBA's
If anyone has any experience evaluating new SCBA's, I would appreciate any help. I'm looking for ideas on how to formally and fairly evaluate SCBA's - other than just giving them to the guys and asking "which ones do you like?" Does anyone have a written evaluation form or guidlines? Thanks.
Yes we concluded an evaluation process a year ago. We utilized a multi page form that FF participants who were on the selection committee utilized during the evaluation period. We also conducted a training burn and search maze evaluation with 3 MFG SCBA. Reply if you’re interested in the forms and process.
As a current Survivair user, our first step was to decide that we wanted to look at what was available and to do so with an open mind and no pre-conceived notions.
It was easy for us to do because we are not hung up on having to wear a certain make or manufacturer. We wanted the best breathing apparatus for our needs.
The second step was to find people willing & able to participate. In our case, I hand picked the committee, based on my perceptions of who was willing to put forth the effort and who could make an informed decision without bias. The end result was a committee that was skewed towards atheletic young males. We therefore had to ensure that we went out and sought the opinions of a more diverse sampling of our membership. (As the process went on, members who were not particpating were replaced with others who expressed interest)
We then set objectives & a timeline for the committee.
1. Identify the leading manufacturers of SCBA.
2. Develop evaluation criteria and fire ground test scenarios.
3. Collect historical service data from mfg, end users, and NIOSH.
4. Research company customer service satisfaction.
5. Test equipment under fire ground conditions.
6. Evaluate cost-benefit.
7. Select best SCBA for our needs.
8. Provide test and evaluation data to staff.
9. Implement change.
After that we decided what was important to us in a breathing apparatus. We came up with the following list:
1.) SCBA Ease of Use & Comfort
2.) SCBA Performance & Durability
3.) SCBA Features & Compatibility
4.) Ease of Maintenance & Service
5.) Cost of Purchase & Maintenance
6.) Vendor & Mfg. Performance, Reputation, Reliability
Then we established evaluation criteria, comprised of a subjective evaluation of: Vendor Presentations; Facepiece Field of View; SCBA Luminence in Low-light conditions; and Field Evaluations & Training Evolutions.
Complimented by a direct comparison of: Warranty and SCBA Weight.
We developed several evaluations forms and a list of evolutions that we wanted to perform while wearing each SCBA. Including:
Once that was done, we started. We invited ISI, Interspiro, Drager, Scott, MSA, and Surviair to participate. All companies accepted and provided two demo SCBA for our use over a 6 month period.
- Donning and Doffing - General Usage
- Low Light Usage - Advancing Hose lines
- Throwing/Climbing Ladders - Ventilation
- Search & Rescue - Fire Extinguishment
- Buddy Breathing - Supplied Airline Operations
- RIT Connections - RIT Rescue Evolutions
- Low Air / No Air - Cylinder Exchange
- Water Submerged - Faulty Electronics / No Batteries
- PASS Activation - Evacuation Cartridge
- Maintenance & Cleanup - Emergency Bypass
In October 2004, all vendors & manufaturers scheduled dates to present their product and train the members in its use.
In November, we conducted the direct comparisons in a controlled environment & particpated in classroom training to ensure that all committee members were thoroughly versed in the operation of each SCBA.
In December we began the training evolutions, doing our best to try & get everyone as much time as possible in each SCBA. Once we started using them under simulated fireground conditions, it didn't take long for everyone to formulate their opinions about each brand.
By Christmas we were able to eliminate Intersprio, ISI, and Drager. We retained the Scott NxG2 for further study because only one unit was provided and we were unable to conduct the RIT & Buddy Breathing scenarios. The MSA & Survivair were also retained.
Evolutions continued throughout January & February. In March we elminated Scott from the process due to a lack of support from the vendor & manufacturer. We called MSA & Survivair back in for additional meetings, to see the remainder of their product line (such as the SAR packs, air carts, etc.) We also toured the MSA factory.
In April we sent the specifications to each vendor for pricing. Because each SCBA was unique, the specs were not apple-to-apple, but were designed in such a way as to meet our needs as determined by the committee.
For example, we have an existing Survivair RIT kit. We are purchasing 3 more for the grant. Survivair only needed to quote 3. MSA, because they recommended against using the Survivair kit with their SCBA, had to quote 4, the 3 for the grant plus 1 to replace our exisiting kit.
In May, we met with both vendors to go over their price quotes. The final decision wwas made not based on price, or low bid, but on which manufacturer could meet what we want for what we had to spend.
Our choice was MSA.
The first part of the order just arrived last week and the remaining part should arrive this week. Then we will begin training our members on the new SCBA and implement the switch to the new breathing apparatus.
I've attached an article from Fire Engineering which helped us establish our evaluation program.
Powerpoint presentation made to explain the process to our membership. [633kb Zipped]
Forms used during evaluation, and Excel spreadsheet tabulating results. [706kb zipped]
Hope this helps! Would appreciate a reply to know I didn't waste my time doing all of this for you.
What ever you do, do an evaluation. We just bought $125K worth of Scott NxG2s. Why, because our old packs were Scotts. No evaluation of any kind was done. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :(