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  1. #1
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    Default All SCBA's to be obsolete in 2007?

    An article published in the October 2005 Fire Apparatus magazine states that FEMA/IAB is railroading the NFPA 1981 technical committe to standardize all SCBA bottles beginning in 2007. The short version would be that all bottles will be limited to 2216 psi with standardized threads (no Scott quick-connects), and baby blue (like that matters). I don't know if the proposed threads will be compatible with present bottles or not.

    The potential impact of this would be huge on all departments large and small. Anyone else have news on this?
    ullrichk
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    If anyone feels strongly on this issue, they should be aware that you all have a voice on the NFPA Standards making process. Here is the revision cycle from the NFPA website:

    Revision Cycle Information:


    Proposal Closing Date: 1/7/2005
    Report on Proposals Mailing Date: 12/23/2005

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

    Comment Closing Date: 3/3/2006
    Report on Comments Mailing Date: 8/25/2006

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

    Notice of Intent to Make a Motion Closing Date: 10/20/2006
    Posting of Certified NITMAM: 11/17/2006

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


    Revised Edition Date: 2007

    You can submit your proposals and comments online.
    http://forums.nfpa.org:8081/pcsubmit/pctop.html

    Here is how the code process works:
    http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp...rocess%20works

    Every single proposal or comment is read by the entire committee. Every single proposal or comment is discussed. Every single proposal or comment is voted on. You will recieve a letter stating the disposition of you proposal or comment.

    Word to the wise: DO NOT write a comment that says: "This sucks!". It will be voted out very rapidly. If you are submitting a proposal, make sure it is for specific language and has a strong rationale. If you are submitting a comment, make sure you have researched your answer and provide concrete reasons either supporting or going against the proposal. It helps to provide alternative language.

    NO ONE should bitch about this if they have not taken the time to participate int he process. Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
    Last edited by GeorgeWendtCFI; 10-17-2005 at 11:36 AM.

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    FEMA couldn't find an elephant with diarrhea in a foot of snow. This would be another unfunded mandate by the feds that would cost the taxpayers of this country at $240 Billion to bring each and every FD into compliance.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by ullrichk
    An article published in the October 2005 Fire Apparatus magazine states that FEMA/IAB is railroading the NFPA 1981 technical committe to standardize all SCBA bottles beginning in 2007. The short version would be that all bottles will be limited to 2216 psi with standardized threads (no Scott quick-connects), and baby blue (like that matters). I don't know if the proposed threads will be compatible with present bottles or not.

    The potential impact of this would be huge on all departments large and small. Anyone else have news on this?
    Brother ullrichk..

    Do you have link to the story or to Fire Apparatus magazine?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    If anyone feels strongly on this issue, they should be aware that you all have a voice on the NFPA Standards making process. Here is the revision cycle from the NFPA website:

    Revision Cycle Information:


    Proposal Closing Date: 1/7/2005
    Report on Proposals Mailing Date: 12/23/2005

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

    Comment Closing Date: 3/3/2006
    Report on Comments Mailing Date: 8/25/2006

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

    Notice of Intent to Make a Motion Closing Date: 10/20/2006
    Posting of Certified NITMAM: 11/17/2006

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


    Revised Edition Date: 2007

    You can submit your proposals and comments online.
    http://forums.nfpa.org:8081/pcsubmit/pctop.html

    Here is how the code process works:
    http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp...rocess%20works

    Every single proposal or comment is read by the entire committee. Every single proposal or comment is discussed. Every single proposal or comment is voted on. You will recieve a letter stating the disposition of you proposal or comment.

    Word to the wise: DO NOT write a comment that says: "This sucks!". It will be voted out very rapidly. If you are submitting a proposal, make sure it is for specific language and has a strong rationale. If you are submitting a comment, make sure you have researched your answer and provide concrete reasons either supporting or going against the proposal. It helps to provide alternative language.

    NO ONE should bitch about this if they have not taken the time to participate int he process. Remember, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
    Excellent advise George. I have sent in my comment.
    Now I will start growing a beard really long so I can wet it and use it to breathe through.
    IAFF

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    I am pretty sure this will have a hard time coming to fruition. We just bought brand new Scotts. We won't be replacing them anytime soon.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Answer: You know everything about everything...find them yourself.

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    I can sort of see two things at work here...one of them is that SCBA bottles of similar pressure are already sort of standardized. A lot of people will tell you that putting one manufacturer's bottle in another's pack is mixing and matching a rated assembly and it is true. But that is only one piece of the puzzle, next there has to be a failure of some sort. The obvious question is what sort of failure is likely to come of it? The only two I can see is the strap(s) not fitting tight enough, which should be prevented by observation before hand, and something going wrong with the connector, which should be a standard CGA (except quick connects of course). If there is no failure in either of those places, which there will likely not be, and the SCBA still fails, due to a product defect, then the SCBA manufacturer will likely still try to get out of it citing the mismatch but they won't have much of a leg to stand on. Their product would have failed no matter whose bottle was attached...don't misconstrue this to say I am advocating mix and match but I am trying to point out what I see as a misconception. These new bottles will likely fit where the old did so long as the SCBA is 2216 or 3000 psi and manufacturers will probably certify their SCBA to work with the new bottles either as-is or with minor modifications.

    Next there is the broader issue of NFPA mandating or "suggesting" more and more stuff that is unattainable, off the top of my head I think of staffing levels, replacement of apparatus, probably 1901, etc. If they go on doing this their status as a nationally recognized standard will become compromised, as a good lawyer in a court case will point out their many standards that are not adhered to, unattainable, or were designed by apparatus and equipment manufacturers to increase their own sales volume by artificial obsolescence.

    Also this would be a gross regression in technology for many of the more agressive (well funded) departments who have gone to 4500 long ago. It would compromise the safety of their firefighters and so they would have a great reason not to follow this proposed section.

    Personally I think it would arouse the ire of a lot of chiefs and higher ups and will be shot down in committee before long. It might be nice to have a stated standard for all bottles of a certain pressure though, that they must be interchangeable regardless of manufacturer, so long as the pressure is the same and then just stick with the current color code. That would leave out the quick connect people though but I think the intent of this proposed reg is to have some form of standardization so on larger incidents which call for mutual aid to large cities that aren't used to calling for mutual aid, things could still be made to work.

    Birken

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    Time to buy shares in Scott/Draeger/Interspiro methinks. As the Gonz says, this will cost the taxpayer millions to implement and for what benefit? Why not implement stockpiles of relevant sets and ancilliary equipment with those Depts percieved to need it? Large cities such as NY, LA, etc will be better off with these than a small, one engine Dept which is never going to get a call to assist a city on the other side of the country. The UK has gone down this route with "New Dimensions" equipment, which include Mass Decontamination Units, High Volume Pumping Units and for metropolitan Fire Brigades, BA Support Units, which provide a large number of BA sets on a truck, with refilling capability.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    I have looked at the membership of this Technical Committee. It is, as all NFPA Committees are, evenly split among the various disciplines. I am a member of a Technical Committee. It is not uncommon for a small segment of the membership to come in with a proposal they feel very strongly about and try to persuade the committee to accept it. Most, if not all, of the members take their responsibility seriously. I have not seen any evidence of a member putting profits or special interest ahead of their vote on the committee.

    They will listen to reasonable, well researched comments with a basis in fact. They are turned off completely by comments based on emotion. Remember, none of you have actually read the proprosal yet. It has not been published.

    I would not hold my breath that this proposal will pass the comment phase. That is, unless there an articulable, rational reason for it to be passed.

    Let your voice be heard.

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    I have checked Fire Apparatus magazine's website and there is no link to the article in question. If I have time, I'll try to post more of it some time today.

    According to the article, the proposal is not up on the NFPA website yet because the offical proposal/comment period is not open yet. Also stated was that attempts to get this approved as a TIA were not successful. I didn't find anything at FEMA, DHS, IAB, or USFA websites, though my searches were only cursory so far.

    We're scheduled to replace all our SCBA with 4500 psi models with a FIRE Act grant this year and I'd hate to see the money wasted on equipment that will be obsolete before it's delivered.

    I suspect at least part of the story must be accurate to make it in a nationally distributed trade journal. Before I start on a rant with NFPA or anyone else I'm trying to find out the whole story.
    ullrichk
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    George - can you clue us that don't know everything into how to review the proposed document? I've found where I can preview the existing edition, but haven't found the newly proposed document. Perhaps it isn't even available yet for review?

    PM me if necessary. I'd appreciate it...

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    Perhaps it isn't even available yet for review?
    That is exactly correct. The ROP appears to be scheduled for release in 12/2005 or 1/2006.

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    At FRI in Denver this year, the Air Force was exhibiting a prototype SCBA that will make whatever you have obsolete in a couple years anyway. It was a vest with 15 egg shaped mini cylinders imbedded in it-each holding about 2 minutes of air. It weighs about 3 pounds and could fit UNDER your bunker coat. No changing the bottles, it's got a fill port for refills. It's just a technology demonstrator at this point, but WOW. If I could ever figure out how to post pics, I would

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    Here's a hypothetical question...

    If a troll posts and nobody answers, did the troll really post?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Here's a hypothetical question...

    If a troll posts and nobody answers, did the troll really post?
    I bet I know who has the answer to that.....

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    FEMA wanted to abolish 10 codes too, and they did real well getting that accomplished.

    Whatever happens, our 4500s are brand new. I suspect we'll have them for a good 15-20 years more, regardless of what NFPA says is proper.

    While the magazine doesn't have the article online, the front page of the October issue is, and it clearly shows FEMA is the culprit looking at change.

    Fire Apparatus Magazine
    Last edited by npfd801; 10-17-2005 at 03:11 PM. Reason: spulin'

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    Are we sure that we are talking about the Federal Emergency Management Agency and not the Fire Equipment Manufacturer's Association?

    I'm having trouble figuring out where the feds have a dog in this fight. It's going to effect them, too.

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    Im not at all an expert at this, but isn't the NFPA written as a STANDARD and not a law? With this being said, there are many fire departments that currently do not follow some NFPA standards and continue to operate just fine. The NFPA has standards for wildland fire fighting and I still see photos of firefighters in parts of the country wearing bunker/turn-out gear during wildland fire. My point is that just because the NFPA makes it a standard, does not mean that the agencies have to follow it...

    Who knows, my comments may be wrong and out of line. Help me understand.

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    A reply to an inquiry to the publisher of Fire Apparatus magazine (and a speedy one I might add):


    We will be putting it up on our website soon, but it is OK with me for you to
    reprint it for the Forum members as
    long as you mention that it's a front page story in Fire Apparatus Magazine
    (and let them know where they can e-
    mail to get a free copy sent to them & a subscription form.) The address is
    "administration@firemagazine.com"
    Or, send them to our web site at www.fireapparatusmagazine.com. The story
    should be up on the site sometime
    Tuesday.


    This SCBA thing is a real can of worms. Some manufacturers think they will
    make a "killing" on selling all new
    packs and air bottles but they don't want to take a position one way or the
    other because they know what a mess
    it will cause for fire departments. The net result will be that "nobody" will
    have compatible bottles even in their
    own fire department for several years to come.

    Anything you can do to get some attention would be helpful. The NFPA Technical
    Committee is really split as they
    don't want their "authority" to write standards taken away by FEMA/Homeland
    Security which has threatened to
    issue "Federal Administrative Rules" under if NFPA doesn't conform to their
    request.


    C. Peter Jørgensen
    Publisher



    Karl A. Ullrich" said:

    > I commented in the Firehouse forums at Firehouse.com on the October 2005
    front page story on FEMA's
    proposed changes to the NFPA SCBA standard. The article has generated a
    considerable amount of interest
    already. Would it be possible for you to publish the article on your web site,
    or would you consider granting
    permission for me to reproduce the article for the forum members?
    >
    > Your consideration is greatly appreciated.
    >
    > Karl A. Ullrich
    > Lieutenant, Union City Fire Department
    > Union City, TN
    If we don't get any calls this evening, I'll try to post a copy. It's long and I don't have a scanner or OCR software. If you're patient, you can check out their web site tomorrow.
    Last edited by ullrichk; 10-17-2005 at 06:13 PM. Reason: minor formatting change for clarity
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    I will take responsibility for any typographical errors or omissions that occurred in copying the article here except as noted.

    The following information is provided per the publisher/author's request:

    The article was published on the front page of the October 2005 Fire Apparatus magazine. Their web site is here, and the article should be posted there sometime on Tuesday, October 18th.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    FEMA Wants All SCBA Replaced

    By C. Peter Jorgensen

    “We’re from the government and we’re going to make all your SCBA obsolete and non-NFPA compliant.”

    “Don’t worry; we know what’s best for you. Just because you are located in Frackville, Pa., or Blackfoot, Idaho, don’t think you won’t be the next target for a terrorist attack.”

    Far-fetched?

    Nope. A proposal by the InterAgency Board (IAB) for Equipment Standardization and InterOperability, which several people thought had died long ago, is about to be forced down the throat of the NFPA in October. Under the plan, all Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) will have to use the same universal air bottle.

    Baby blue bottles for everybody; whether you want them need them or not.

    Although the “public comment” period won’t open until December to run through March 2006, the IAB is confident its planned change to NFPA 1981 will be adopted and is on schedule for “Mandatory Compliance” in August 2007.

    Although nobody will use the term on the record, the NFPA Technical Committee on Open-Circuit Breathing Apparatus is being bulldozed into coming up with a proposal to satisfy the IAB and Homeland Security.

    Committee Chairman Ray Reed, battalion chief at Dallas (Texas) Fire-Rescue, says the Report on Proposal for NFPA 1981 changes will soon be available on the NFPA web site and additional efforts will be made to publicize it to fire departments to fire departments across the country.

    Earlier this summer a federal government push to have this “interoperability standard” adopted as a Temporary Interim Amendment was rejected by the committee. Such an amendment would have put proposed rules into effect without waiting for “public” input and the scheduled August 2007 update to the NFPA Standard.

    Non-Compliant Bottles

    Even if you just purchased all new SCBA with a FIRE Act grant in the last few years, your masks, regulators and especially all your bottles will be non-compliant.

    The supposed “benefit” to your department is that eventually you will be able to exchange air bottles with mutual aid departments responding to a terrorist attack, or at a fire scene even if you don’t have SCBA made by the same manufacturer.

    Little does it matter to the IAB that a 30-minute air bottle provides air for about 18 minutes and then has to be refilled. Or that all air bottles have a standardized refill valve assembly making the quest for “compatibility” just a new answer to a problem solved long ago by the fire service itself.

    Bottle Refilling

    Bottles are now refilled from on-scene air supply trucks that carry high-volume air cylinders arranged in a cascade system to ensure full and uniform pressure. Each bottle is refilled in less than five minutes – a lot quicker than it takes a firefighter to use up the air inside the bottle presently on his back.

    Any large fire scene involving mutual aid departments has one or more refill stations set up where bottles are charged and sorted by color. Since all departments must now carry a spare cylinder for each SCBA unit in service, running out of full bottles is rarely a problem.

    In 2007, manufacturers will begin selling only baby blue SCBA bottles, regardless of the color you now have now [sic noted by ullrichk]. And it won’t make any difference whether you now have two or 200 or 2,000 air packs – or many thousands like New York City – the new baby blue bottles won’t fit your present air packs. And FDNY, for example, won’t be able to buy any more yellow bottles. It will be forced to switch colors – and type.

    FDNY doesn’t like the idea. Their representative on the NFPA Technical Committee, Richard S. Tobin, said in a letter to the committee chairman this year, “Interoperability was never an issue for the FDNY at the World Trade Center on 9/11/01.”

    No matter. White, green, gray, black, or whatever color bottle you now have will be incompatible with SCBA sold after August 2007 under the IAB-FEMA sponsored “interchangeability” program.

    It may take the life cycle of a new carbon fiber cylinder to replace all of your present SCBA with a “universal” model. In the meantime you’ll just have to play “mix and match” on the fireground for the next 15 years.

    Instead of enhancing interoperability, a dictated change will ensure that SCBA bottles in the same department won’t be compatible with each other. Pre-2007 air packs will take one type bottle and post 2007 packs will use the baby blue bottles. This will guarantee confusion during routine operations and even during training within a single fire department.

    Underwrite The Cost

    Tobin adds that the FDNY feels “if the InterAgency Board, an element of the Department of Homeland Security, sincerely believes SCBA bottle interoperability is vital to our national security, then that Department should present a plan for the federal government to underwrite the costs associated with this undertaking.” His opinion is backed up by FDNY Chief of Operations Sal Cassano.

    But there’s not much chance of that. There’s an estimated 1.2-million air bottles now in service. At $700 apiece for a carbon fiber lightweight 2216 psi cylinder, that’s $840 million, or more than the entire FIRE Act grants for one year. With masks and regulators coming under new standards as well, the figure could rise to $2.6 billion.

    Fairfax County Fire-Rescue, Fairfax, Va., doesn’t like the idea either. Lt. Paul Bull, committee representative, wrote of the IAB and FEMA demand to NFPA that, “Never asked or answered was . . . what area of the fire service community brought this item forward as a concern that needs to be immediately addressed?”

    Fairfax County Fire-Rescue was the Incident Commander for the Pentagon air crash and fire on September 11, 2001.

    Another problem identified by the Technical Committee members was that this type of change will violate the federal NIOSH standards under which entire SCBA models are certified to comply with OSHA standards. At present, using one company’s air bottle on a different manufacturer’s SCBA violates the NIOSH and OSHA standards even if the bottles will interchange.

    Bottles Look The Same

    While outwardly the bottles in the 30, 45- and 60-minute sizes all look the same, internal liners from various manufacturers have differences. There are three approved bottle pressures, 2,216 psi, 3,000 psi and 4,500 psi. But some really ancient steel bottles with round bottoms in 1,800 psi and 2,015 psi capacities are still found in some small rural fire houses today.

    Lt. Bull of Fairfax County has further objected to the “11th hour push . . .by the NFPA Technical Committee “under threat that the IAB and/or FEMA will do something if we do not.” And he’s concerned about the enormous cost to fire departments and little or no benefit.

    Part of the proposal also requires all SCBA to be Chemical-Biological-Radioactive and Nuclear certified (CBRN) – even in Frackville and Blackfoot.

    None of the SCBA manufacturers has issued a statement in favor of the proposed changes to NFPA 1981, even though they would benefit from huge sales of new cylinders.

    A spokesman for Scott pointed out that government standardized cylinders would stop research and development in its tracks. Scott recently introduced the Snap-Change ® cylinder attachment that doesn’t require a screw-type connector hose and allows bottle changes in under five seconds. The Snap-Change has both audible and LED indicators to show cylinder status during a change and it meets all current NFPA requirements and has an integral PASS device.

    All SCBAs manufactured since the last NFPA update in 2002 have provisions for sharing air with a downed firefighter, but competition between manufacturers keeps up development of new technology. The IAB proposal would outlaw the Scott Snap-Change, replacing it with an inferior system. In effect, all SCBA development would be frozen at 2005 Standards as it is unlikely the government itself would undertake research and development.

    The InterAgency Board for Equipment Standardization and InterOperability (IAB) was founded by the Department of Defense’s Consequence Management Program Integration Office and the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation Weapons of Mass Destruction Countermeasures. It is also charged with working on communications interoperability and, not having any success there, is apparently looking for an easy “win” on the SCBA bottle standard.

    Pro-Forma Exercise

    It matters little that the fire service has had no opportunity for input and that internal documents and notes between committee members suggest that the so-called public comment period from December through March will just be a pro-forma exercise.

    While most fire departments have adopted the mobile cascade system to refill cylinders on the fire scene, FDNY operates differently. It has trucks spotted around the city filled with spare cylinders. Its cylinder inventory is in the thousands and replacement would have a significant financial impact. Any gradual changeover would create an interchangeability problem for years to come, canceling out the benefit available to them on September 11 with a single system of similar air bottles throughout the city.

    Note: This is Part I of a two-part story on proposed changes to NFPA 1981. Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Magazine will publish comments from readers and fire chiefs received before out [sic noted by ullrichk] next issue. Thus far there has been no “user input” on the proposed changes. E-mail may be addressed to news@firemagazine.com. All letters will be verified and must contain names, affiliation and contact telephone numbers for checking purposes.
    ullrichk
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    Wow, they really are looking out for us, aren't they!

    I like the old way, where new products are accepted or rejected by the people who use them. The " here's your box, fit yourself into it" routine is getting old quick. I don't think this is the sky falling just yet, but rather just another load of government bs rolling down hill.

    Am I missing something here? Other issues brought to their attention by the fire fighting community seem to just fall to the wayside, but then someone dreams up a whopper like this, and presto, " it has to be or we'll make the rule ourselves."

    Why would I want to put money into things like CBRN, when we don't have the rest of the gear, or the training level to utilize them. For that money, we got a few spare bottles instead. If we pay for CBRN for instance, and we are unfortunate enough to have the exposure to certain chemicals, we would still be dead, but our BA would live to fight another day.???

    I will be asserting my 2 cents to the committee, and hopefully this idea will go poof, and dissappear as fast as it came.
    There goes the neighborhood.

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    I scimmed the posts. Maybe I missed something.

    I don't get why this is going to be good for anybody.

    What is the primary objective?

    Is there something wrong with competition, choice, or sticking with something that's working?

    Standardization will slow advancements and inovations.

    I just don't get it.

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    Angry Who's priority is this ? ? ?

    Has anybody been sitting around with empty bottles of one color while waiting for mutal aid to show up with the same color bottles? ? ? The article quotes one committee member as saying something like "what part of the fire service is demanding to have all the bottles changed?" Apparently there is no good answer--it's not the fire departments but the bureaucrats who suddenly are going to "fix" everything for us.

    Maybe we can just buy some blue paint and make them all look a like. That should keep the Homeland Security and FEMA guys confused for awhile.

    It seems to me that in the summer when it's 90-degrees you run outa firefighters faster than you run out of the air supply.

    Is this a REAL problem someplace ? ? ? Anyplace???

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    Wow.

    Ostensibly, they are trying to deal with the interoperability issue. Well, the interoperability crisis in communications, not SCBA. I would imagine that there is some egghead, do-nothing bureaucrat that came up with this idea to make it look like they are doing something.

    If you read the article, one glaring item here is that at least one manufacturer is against this. That is key.

    My guess here is that this is not going to pass the Technical Committee. If there is a large (professional) outcry from the fire service, the members of the committee (at least half of which are actual fire service people) will vote with their common sense and conscience and say no.

    But again, you are the key factor here. If you feel strongly about this, get ready to submit your comment when the ROP is released. You DO NOT have to be a member of the NFPA to submit a comment. But if you do not submit a comment, don't come on this board and bitch when this passes.

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