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    Default SCBA At Every Fire?

    Since there is an argument going about arriving at a fire before anyone else and making a rescue without SCBA, I was wondering how many here wear their mask at every fire. At a pot of meat? A one roomer? Light smoke only? Autos? Dumpsters? Rubbish? Grass? Everything? Just curious.
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    Our policy is at least 2 members riding the truck have SCBA on (no air, no face piece - unless needed ) unless the OIC decides they are not needed. And we don't run EMS.
    "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?

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    If the envirment is IDLH, you should be on air. If the envirment isn't and won't imminently be IDLH, you don't need to be on air. If you might need it later, you should have the pack on your back ready to go.

    Any fire can create and IDLH atmosphere. That however doesn't mean that EVERY fire WILL create one. A pot of burning dinner in the oven is probably not going to create and IDLH atmosphere but you should show up with the pack on and ready to go incase it extends and it becomes IDLH. A room and contents will be IDLH really fast, probably before you get there. It isn't the size of the fire that determines SCBA use, it is the air you breath so put it on and use it.

    A car fire that is really ripping may not be IDLH as you approach it but as soon as the water hits it, the steam and other gases will usually envelope you and make it one. You might as well be on air when you go at it. If it is a little rats nest burning on the exhaust manifold, chances are it won't become IDLH so you don't need to be on air.

    I have yet to encounter a brush/grass fire that warrented putting the pack on, let alone breathing it. However, watch the conditions because that doesn't mean it will never happen.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Up here, all car fires get SCBA - Period. There are plenty of examples of tanks flashing, etc. where a casual team was seriously burned.

    Most commerical size dumpsters will start on air, but can be stepped down once the initial knockdown and inspection confirms no HAZMAT, or other hazards

    For structures, if heavy smoke/stained windows/significant fire volume are visible from outside, air on entry. For light smoke investigation (i.e. pot on stove, unknown source, etc.) no air until they find a significant smoke, or other hazard (i.e. HAZMAT/chemical odour/irritation) is suspected.

    Grass and slash fires SCBA is not required, but optional for comfort in defensive interface ops (as long as the FF is not hiking a fire line, etc.).

    We are 1/2 way to a complete dept transfer to 4500psi/60min tanks though, so I encourage the guys to err on the side of caution.
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    I should note too that our trucks all have SBCA seats, so nobody but the operator gets off without BA at least on thier back. I discourage masking up in the truck, but if a working fire is confirmed, the guys might in order to get in faster once on scene. With 60 mintue tanks, I'm not worried about 3 minutes of "wasted" air.
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    All personnel except chief officers wear the SCBA on their backs for all but wildland/grass/minor outside fires. No one goes on air until it is an IDLH. But basically if you need full gear on you must wear your SCBA w/o mask. CO alarms get masked up when the detector alarms at 35 PPM. Otherwise the smoke conditions dictate the use of the mask. No stupid crap of crawling under the smoke and not masking up, but if I can walk and breathe and the smoke is light, I may not. Usually the taste and smell of the smoke can tell you whether you need to mask up or not. Again, light non-productive smoke.

    As a side note: What are your thoughts on masking up while performing vertical ventialtion?
    Last edited by RFDACM; 05-02-2006 at 03:13 PM. Reason: had to add a question.

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    On both of my FD's every structure alarm whether for a detector sounding or CO or actual fire gets SCBA on your back with the mask in the ready position (Strap around your neck ready to donnif needed on my career FD or with the mask attached to the regulator on my volly FD). If you enter and find a smoke condition that warrants SCBA use it is donned

    On my career FD if you are venting a roof the mask is on. On my volly FD it is left up to the discretion of the vent team.

    Car fires gets SCBA on both FD's.

    Dumpster is at the discretion of the OIC or the crew. Personally unless it is a paper only dumpster I feel SCBA are appropriate everytime.

    I would think the safety crowd would want SCBA on even at a brush fire. Who knows if that field had been sprayed with weed killers or pesticides. Or if some container of ethyl methyl flouroplouro nasty stuff was dumped out there.

    As for me and both of my FD's brush fires get no SCBA unless you want to wear one and I have never seen anyone wear an SCBA and try to carry an Indian can!!

    Again, of course in a lot of circumstances an SCBA is the right choice and should be worn. But the silliness of hopping off the rig with your facepiece on is just that, silliness. In the cold the mask fogs up almost instantly and you can't see anything. How safe is that. Stretch the lines, place the ladders or do whatever you need to do to get ready to enter THEN mask up. Both of my FD's operate that way and to me it is far more efficient. Others I am sure will disagree.

    FyredUp

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    Normally on veh fires and dumpster fires, I will have on an air pack with my mask hooked into the regulator, but I won't be on air it will just be swinging. The same happens at most structure fires. If there is light smoke I will go in until I feel like I need to put it on. If we roll up to a house with fire blowing out of a window or it is obvisously burning and not just a pot on the stove I will wait until I get to the front door before I put my mask on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp
    But the silliness of hopping off the rig with your facepiece on is just that, silliness. In the cold the mask fogs up almost instantly and you can't see anything. How safe is that. FyredUp
    No joke: the dept. up the street from us wears their masks (not on air) while enroute! You can hear the officer talking through his mask calling for assignments. It usually causes a complete work stoppage in our station as everyone rolls around on the floor wishing they had a diaper on! The sad part is, they just don't know any better. They really think they're doing something good to speed their time into the building. Of course they can't be sure if they're in the right building or not through the fogged up mask!

    The other FD nearby wears their masks upon assignment. We had them in a on coverage call that brought them to the scene of a 4 story Hotel that had a CO issue (100 PPM on floors 3+4). As we were wrapping up, they were assigned to go in to each of the rooms on the 2nd floor and secure the windows and doors that had been opened. Other companies took other floors. The poor bastards were ordered on air as they left the truck and had to walk, on air, past about 20 other firefighters in the parking lot then past the unmasked guys on the first floor. I'm sure they were humiliated, as on top of this they have to wear the Space Balls helmets in an area where 75% wear traditional (NYer style) helmets. Not to mention is hard to convince folks that is safe to go back to their rooms when they see masked up firefighters leaving the room! They got a new acting chief just the other day so who knows?

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    Since there is an argument going about arriving at a fire before anyone else and making a rescue without SCBA, I was wondering how many here wear their mask at every fire. At a pot of meat? A one roomer? Light smoke only? Autos? Dumpsters? Rubbish? Grass? Everything? Just curious.

    It honestly depends on what I am working on, and what my position is for that tour. If I am in my normal slot/position, I will never wear a mask for a car fire, or a typical alarm sounding, scorched food, rubbish, and so on. If were sent on a full box assignment, or a garage assignment, I will put my mask on; but donít confuse that with being on air. It also is taken off just as quickly as possible.
    Now, if I happen to be working a tour on an engine I will typically put my pack on for most everything, including scorched food. I wonít necessarily go on air, but my pack will be on my back.
    Now that is just me, oftentimes the cub will mask up with the boss on everything.
    Last edited by jasper45; 05-02-2006 at 06:11 PM.

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    Over here, it is usual for two one one of the Pumps on the Initial call (Fire/Smoke/AFA) to rig in BA and be ready to start up on arrival. If it is a structure fire with a decent (hard to quantify... but smoke that is starting to darken up), then they will go in under air to fight the fire...anything like a pan or a small fire that isn't compromising the compartment will normally be dealt with using a can.

    Rubbish and car fires were always a no. Especially with the number of car fores we were getting when the EU recycling rules came in, Car fires were always a nuisance in the UK inner cities as general vandalism/Insurance fraud or arson trod its path...but when it actually started to cost money to scrap a car they were just abandoned and set on fire. Around the late 90's/2000 it became an epidemic...an average inner City Station would go to at least a couple every night. Some places such as Manchester were absolutely plagues with dozens each shift. That has all changed now and Local Authorities have the power to remove wrecks immediately before they get torched.

    My Station at the time was fairly typical...because a car fire was outdoors we never bothered...but when they were getting fasirly regualr we were questioning the effect on our health. So, we used a spare SCBA set and one Ff would wear that for a car fire running the cylinder down over the course of a shift, inseatd of wasting a new cylinder for every job.

    Our BA procedures as I have explained elsewhere are very prescriptive, thereofr, we had an unwriiten rule just for car fires one person could wear to avoid the crap coming off of the car without the usual minimum of 2 strict entry procedures..they were essentially in open air and not in danger of getting lost (the whole point of BA Control) so the system was relaxed locally although never officially.
    Last edited by SteveDude; 05-02-2006 at 06:30 PM. Reason: spelling error
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    Structures you should get off the rig with it on your back ready to go. Car fires should be on air, their is too much stuff that is very bad comming from a car on fire.
    IDLH, go on air. that is visability of five feet. Most guys would go on air long before that point.
    That brings me to another point, the pack should be on your back for any call with the possibility it may be needed. IE fire alarms, far too many places respond to the afa assuming it is nothing. We need to look at every responce like it is a fire. Otherwise why go at all.

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    IMHO,

    I would wear an SCBA at any car fire. There are so many differnt nasty materials in cars these days that I do not want to get into my system.
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    I always pack up on structure calls including smells, alarms, and fires. Pack up on car fires but don't go on air, for some unknown(stupid) reason.

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    Our guys all wear SCBA at any woking fire however many of us only don the face piece if needed. Heavy black or brown smoke YES..Light smoke conditions no (i.e) Pot on the stove.. Car fires yes..Barn fires or surround and drowns NO..their on our back but not hooked up to air. Any remote alarms yes but not on air etc.. So we wear them 90% of the time but only on air when needed. And if we are enteing a structure fire (residentai) we mask up at door. Ventilation we are suppose too however must of us dont unless smoke conditions worsen but the packs are on our back. And yes we all wear our fire hoods..
    Last edited by JAFA62; 05-02-2006 at 06:32 PM.

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    Current Department (last 3 years)

    ANY structure with ANY smoke ... Yes, until CO goes below 30 PPM even if room is clear of smoke. Also for all roof ops.

    Vehicle .... All

    Dumpster .. Most


    Previous Department (88-02)

    Structure ... All, including roof operations.

    Vehicle .. All

    Dumpster .. All

    Investigations .. All

    Both departments required that backseaters have mask on and be on air before exiting appratus, which personally I do not agree with, but it is department policy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    Current Department (last 3 years)

    ANY structure with ANY smoke ... Yes, until CO goes below 30 PPM even if room is clear of smoke. Also for all roof ops.

    Vehicle .... All

    Dumpster .. Most


    Previous Department (88-02)

    Structure ... All, including roof operations.

    Vehicle .. All

    Dumpster .. All

    Investigations .. All

    Both departments required that backseaters have mask on and be on air before exiting appratus, which personally I do not agree with, but it is department policy.
    \



    WOW!!!!
    The only one on this entire list that makes any sort of sense is the vehicle!

    30 PPM??????? You can turn you lawn mower on in your garage for 30 seconds and be standing in 30ppm! I understand there is some bad stuff out there that you can get into your system but this stuff seems a lil bit over kill to me.
    If you were with me last night I think you would of gone through 2 cylinders and I only had the roof!

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    The 30ppm...

    The OSHA "Permissible" level is 50ppm x 8hrs; "Recommended" is 35ppm x 8hrs.

    I know my department at one point was using a similiar policy -- keep the airpacks on during overhaul until CO below 35ppm. Recognizing that it wasn't a concern about CO per se at those levels, but on the theory CO would be a "canary" gas -- it's presence could signal the presence of high levels of other worse stuff.

    Alan Brunacini actually had that common sense theory tested...and found out it was wrong. They'd get good CO levels, but still be high on other stuff in certain situations.

    I *don't* know why LA's department adopted it; but for those who still think it's an indicator gas, it's not -- use the CO meter readings for what they are, CO levels and nothing else.

    ===========
    If you're responding to a fire call (other than brush), bunk up and pack up. Don't mask up.

    Anytime you go to work in smoke coming primarily from man-made things, mask up.

    It's quicker to doff an un-needed pack on arrival, than it is to don one when you discover you have a real fire.
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 05-03-2006 at 12:23 AM.

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    While slightly off the original topic, the CO discussion is interesting. Our SOG states mask up at 35 PPM on CO investigations. This is for two reasons: first, this is the point our detector/meter arms and it could read 150 PPM around the next corner, so we start on air at this point. But more importantly we found that it helps convince occupants to take CO alarms seriously. If we walk around with no mask then tell them how dangerous it potentially is, they shake their heads and go right back to business as usual. When we have all our guys in masks the people seeem to undersstand the issue needs to be adresses immediately. We spent about 45 minutes trying to convince a young pregnant lady to seek medical attention after we had redingis of 175 PPM in her apartment. It took two officers and a medic this long to explain the issues and dangers to her baby. (maybe she was not rationally thinking due t CO poisioning?) Anyway that sealed the deal for our more stringent policy. Of course this is for calls for CO alarms, not used to determine when to doff the masks at a fire. Though I'm sure one of our safety guys will try.

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    I put a pac on when I need it. Others may pac up before me. I may pac up before others. I wont pac up on the roof or an auto or a dumpster or any other of the multiple types of incidents that some here might choose. So, like I said, I pac up when I need to.
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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    You're saying you will only pack up when you need to, but then you say you *won't* pack up for certain situations. Are you saying that a car fire, dumpster fire, or roof work will never be an IDLH atmosphere where you have to pack up?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    I pack up for just about everything, go on air as needed.
    Dumpsters-yes
    Autos-most cases
    Been to car fires and never needed air, been to grass fires, thought I was going to die...
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    So PFD.... the only bad smoke is "really burning structure smoke" ?

    Cleaning chemicals in the dumpster don't bother ya? All the plastics in the car or the rolling meth lab in the trunk doesn't bother ya? Just that light smoke from the mostly synthetic couch burning not a concern??

    Hope ya can still breathe fine when you're 65.

    I'm amazed how cavalier some of the guys are here with "just taking in a little smoke". Guess I'm not old school enough, even though I have been around longer than a lot of these kids posting, to take in smoke when I have protection available. I wonder why some departments even have these new fangled pain in the arse airpack gizmos since they seem to be used so little.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 05-03-2006 at 06:08 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    You're saying you will only pack up when you need to, but then you say you *won't* pack up for certain situations. Are you saying that a car fire, dumpster fire, or roof work will never be an IDLH atmosphere where you have to pack up?
    That is correct. I wont pac up for a car fire, dumpster fire and sure as hell wont wear a pac on the roof. Get over it. It was a question, I answered it. This whole IDLH thing is funny. Hell, my local is an IDLH for most of you.
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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    But more importantly we found that it helps convince occupants to take CO alarms seriously.

    ROFLMAO...

    I just had this picture in my head of a new way to convince a patient who is being "difficult" that they really should go to the hospital...fake some kind of a reading, leave the room, come back from the Rescue wearing an AirPack & Tyvek suit, "No, Seriously, you really need to go..."

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