1. #1
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    Default Do you fill your air bottles in an enclosure?

    I've seen one firehouse fill the bottles in an enclosed cascade system, and another fill them out in the open, bottle sitting on the bay floor, with the filler line running from a series of three cylinders. What are your thoughts / safety concerns. Thanks in advance.
    Amy

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    Quote Originally Posted by enginegirl1 View Post
    I've seen one firehouse fill the bottles in an enclosed cascade system, and another fill them out in the open, bottle sitting on the bay floor, with the filler line running from a series of three cylinders. What are your thoughts / safety concerns. Thanks in advance.
    Amy
    You should never fill them just out in the open. I think there is a NFPA standard on it, if I am right not sure which one it is. But they should alway's be filled inside and eclosed cascade system in case of the inevitable happening, never know how many people that could injure, or if it falls over and knocks the valve off ( if you don't think it will do much damage I think mythbusters has done a show on both of those, I know they have by knocking the valve off the cylinder, went through 1 1/2 cement block walls and looked just like a rocket)

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    Actually, filling in an enclosure is an OSHA regulation. NFPA makes standards that can or can not be followed. OSHA makes "laws" that need to be followed.

    And if you see people filling bottles on the floor in the open...run away.
    "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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    thanks bones, couldn't remember which one it was

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    There's no excuse for not having an enclosure (here we call them, probably a bit melodramtically, "Blast Tubes") at the station.

    When it comes to refilling bottles at a scene, things vary greatly from one department to another around here. I actually had to stop one guy from a neighboring department from "topping-up" a bottle that was still on someone's back!

    I realize that people used to do it that way, but Jesus. You shouldn't need OSHA to tell you that ain't smart.

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    Over 20 years, I've seen us go from an old steel tube that was mostly for holding water to help cool the bottles as they filled and was most likely to just contribute extra shrapnel after a failure, to filling on the floor, to having a enclosure you can have a lot of confidence in.

    Do I go running in fear when I see a cylinder being filled on the floor? No. There's many much more likely occupational hazards -- ranging from slipping on wet floors in the station, to the hearing loss from people working around the compressor without hearing protection. There's more commmon ways we destroy FD property, too -- all the unsprinklered fire houses out there come to mind.

    In the rare cases they fail, the destruction is catastrophic -- http://www.napsd.com/cscuba.htm is the most famous incident I know of and that was a SCUBA shop. I don't know of any failures during filling in the fire service in the last decade plus. I have seen photos of failures of stored cylinders (does a number on a compartment door...).

    So if you're investing today, including a containment unit along with the cascade/compressor is a good thing. It, well, contains a rare but catastrophic problem.

    HOWEVER, let's put this in perspective:
    I've never seen a fire station or an apparatus with a mobile cascade that had enclosed the cascade cylinders in something I'd consider a "containment" quality shelter.

    Yes, our SCBA bottles get more abuse. On the other hand, an SCBA has 45 cu. ft (30 minute bottle). Most cascades I see have 440cu. ft. 4500psi or 509cu. ft. 6000psi bottles that are being routinely filled by the compressor without those much larger cylinders being in a containment unit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    There's no excuse for not having an enclosure (here we call them, probably a bit melodramtically, "Blast Tubes") at the station.

    When it comes to refilling bottles at a scene, things vary greatly from one department to another around here. I actually had to stop one guy from a neighboring department from "topping-up" a bottle that was still on someone's back!

    I realize that people used to do it that way, but Jesus. You shouldn't need OSHA to tell you that ain't smart.
    I call it the 'pop can'. What can I say, I like to understate things...

    As recently as 7 or 8 years ago, it was fairly common for some departments in my county to use a mobile cascade to "top off" bottles still being worn. My department never did it but honesty compels me to admit that's probably because we didn't get a compressor/cascade until three years ago. I'm certain they would have followed the bad example being set by our neighbors.

    There's no reason not to fill in an enclosure.

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    At one time our dept used to fill bottles in an open steel tube, the compressor had been connected by a previous member of the dept and the whole set up was crap at best. As a matter for fact they had even used brass thin-walled water fittings. We put in for and recieved a grant to buy a new cascade system with a 3 bottle fill station, there is no other way to go. Bones said it best "If you see filling bottles on the floor in the open...run away."

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    Do you fill your air bottles in an enclosure?
    yes we do.
    http://forums.firehouse.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=181526&dateline=11930  75762

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    Yes, our SCBA bottles get more abuse. On the other hand, an SCBA has 45 cu. ft (30 minute bottle). Most cascades I see have 440cu. ft. 4500psi or 509cu. ft. 6000psi bottles that are being routinely filled by the compressor without those much larger cylinders being in a containment unit.
    True, but those large bottles are being filled at a much slower rate than what MOST SCBA bottles get refilled at.
    "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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    Yes we fill our tanks in an enclosure. We have a set up at the station and the we have portable tanks in our search and rescue rig that has an enclosure as well. We used to fill them in the open, never had the funding to get an enclosure set up, but now that we do, never see any of us filling up tanks any other way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by enginegirl1 View Post
    I've seen one firehouse fill the bottles in an enclosed cascade system, and another fill them out in the open, bottle sitting on the bay floor, with the filler line running from a series of three cylinders. What are your thoughts / safety concerns. Thanks in advance.
    Amy
    yes we do................I would not ever do it without one (unless in an EXTREME situation).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    And if you see people filling bottles on the floor in the open...run away.
    10-4 to that caller!!!
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    Stationary cascade system that runs off 6 4500psi bottles is completely enclosed. Also have a 4 6000psi bottle cascade system on our heavy rescue which has blast containers, but are not completely enclosed.

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    We just got a new cascade system with an explosion proof capsule. Before this, we would take them off and put them in a homade holder made out of pvc pipe. Not explosion proof but it was better than doing it on someone's back.

    I don't get a hard on for do it by the book always always always or your birthday will be taken away but on the other hand, yes, something could happen so do it the right way the first time.

    Our policy is to not fill bottles on someone's back. It has been done in an extremely rare, emergency case. If you need more air that quick, that's what spare bottles are for.
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    Yes, itís the only safe way to do it.

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    Yes. We always fill bottles in the "blast tubes". All of our cascade systems have them, and we always use them.

    Have I ever witnessed first hand, a bottle explode while being filled?...No.

    Does the possibility of it happening exist?...Yes, it does.

    Do I want a bottle exploding to be the last thing someone ever sees?...No!

    It only needs to happen once for it to be forever regrettable.




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    I was looking at a web site for cascade systems the other day ( forget which one I'll try and find it again) but anways they gave the number of air bottle failure in the last 20 years it was like 12 and this included scuba tanks to. anyway when its all said and done theres a .0003% chance of your scba bottle failing.I know the chances of me dieing on the way to work tomorrow and alot higher then that, yet I never think about it. But even with that said we should always use the safest method a dept. can afford to have. be safe.
    Last edited by volfireman034; 02-11-2007 at 03:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fireman4949 View Post
    Yes. We always fill bottles in the "blast tubes". All of our cascade systems have them, and we always use them.

    Have I ever witnessed first hand, a bottle explode while being filled?...No.

    Does the possibility of it happening exist?...Yes, it does.

    Do I want a bottle exploding to be the last thing someone ever sees?...No!

    It only needs to happen once for it to be forever regrettable.


    Kevin
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    Quote Originally Posted by volfireman034 View Post
    I was looking at a web site for cascade systems the other day ( forget which one I'll try and find it again) but anways they gave the number of air bottle failure in the last 20 years it was like 12 and this included scuba tanks to. anyway when its all said and done theres a .0003% chance of your scba bottle failing.I know the chances of me dieing on the way to work tomorrow and alot higher then that, yet I never think about it. But even with that said we should always use the safest method a dept. can afford to have. be safe.
    Your right. Lets throw caution to the wind. Screw it. I'm up to do this. Heck, right after we fill the bottles we can soak an old shed in fuel light it up, and show kids just how good we are!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocVBFDE14 View Post
    Your right. Lets throw caution to the wind. Screw it. I'm up to do this. Heck, right after we fill the bottles we can soak an old shed in fuel light it up, and show kids just how good we are!
    YEAH!!!

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    Default Keep it in perspective

    I think the key here is to keep things in perspective. Failure of the walls of an SCBA cylinder is HIGHLY unlikely. With new fiber-walled cylinders that operate at higher pressures, there may be more failures due to damage to the fibers, but even that is highly unlikely as the fibers are very well protected.

    However, think of it this way - for everything that has a chance of happening, it has happened to somebody. So yeah, the chance of a cylinder blowing is very low, but there is that chance. Don't be the one that it happens to and not be protected. Maybe it will only happen once in the next 2 years, but it could be to you, and if you are near that cylinder and it is not enclosed, you will be looking at some very serious injuries, if you survive at all. As small as the risk is, it still isn't worth it. Fill them in enclosed devices PROFESSIONALLY DESIGNED FOR THAT PURPOSE!!!!!!! My department used to have a homemade cinder block well for holding cylinders. If one had blown, that block would have just been shrapnel. It wouldn't have held back anything.

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    Default thanks

    Thanks everyone for the replies. Sounds like the enclosure is the way to go.
    Best wishes,
    Amy

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