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  1. #1
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    Default Donning SCBA for time

    I am having trouble donning the SCBA in under a minute. I am using the MSA stealth. Currently the fastest I can do it is 1:15, while skipping the seal check (an extra 10 seconds). We only started using them yesterday so i have about 8 weeks before I need to do it for time, but most everyone else is already under 1 minute. Does anyone have any tips or tricks to don the MSA SCBA in under 60 seconds? The current way i am trying to do it is by the backpack method. I haven't tried to do the over the head method, is it that much faster?


  2. #2
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    Take your time, if you have 8 weeks to prepare for being tested you should be just fine when test day rolls around. I considered the over the head method faster during academy but that is just my personal preference. Figure out what works for you, then practice practice practice until it becomes second nature. Even though you are going for time you want to be thorough, because if you miss something and don the SCBA in 35 seconds you can still fail. Good Luck

  3. #3
    Forum Member JJensenJr's Avatar
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    Practice, practice, practice! Seriously, when I was a probie I had problems adjusting to new gear (different mask straps/webbing, gear closures, etc.) and donning under emergency situations. I took my gear home on my days off and literally spent 8 hours a day practicing getting dressed. Do it until it becomes automatic. You may feel like a 4 year old, but hey, who has to know but you? You'll appreciate it when you get that "flames visible" call 2 blocks from your house.

    Ask your brothers what works best for them, and if they have any tips or tricks. Sometimes the simplest of things like HOW you lay out your gear can cut seconds off your donning time.

  4. #4
    Forum Member ncoliva1200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhenrich View Post
    I am having trouble donning the SCBA in under a minute. I am using the MSA stealth. Currently the fastest I can do it is 1:15, while skipping the seal check (an extra 10 seconds). We only started using them yesterday so i have about 8 weeks before I need to do it for time, but most everyone else is already under 1 minute. Does anyone have any tips or tricks to don the MSA SCBA in under 60 seconds? The current way i am trying to do it is by the backpack method. I haven't tried to do the over the head method, is it that much faster?

    I use the backpack method when getting tested for time. It's MUCH faster...

    Youtube example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-0-qh7RZKVE
    Last edited by ncoliva1200; 10-14-2007 at 05:39 PM. Reason: Typo
    “The garbage man doesn’t get excited when he turns the corner and sees trash. You shouldn’t get excited either; you should be expecting fire on every run.” - FDNY Lt. Andrew Fredericks

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber jsdobson's Avatar
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    I would suggest work toward efficiency before trying to meet a specific time standard. Once you have a consistant series of steps in donning the airpack, your time will drop.

    Once you have your steps in order and your time is consistantly inside one minute, practice only a couple of times in each session. Too many times I've seen new firefighters practice and practice to the point of diminishing returns. And then they get frustrated and keep practicing with no improvement.

    When you meet the time, stop practicing on a positive note.
    BE SAFE
    Before Everything, Stop And First Evaluate

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    An instructor once told me that "slow = smooth and smooth = fast". Meaning, don't concentrate on the speed, concentrate on practicing each motion until it is smooth, fluid, and automatic....the speed will come naturally once you master the motions and develop "muscle memory"....kind of like riding a bike or tying your shoes...with practice you will reach the point where you don't have to think about it, and the speed will come.

    BTW, does that 1 minute include donning the helmet, hood, and gloves or just the pack?

    Also, make sure before you start (if given the opportunity), to check all your straps, buckles, etc. and lay everything out just like you want it. Fighting with a twisted strap or a strap that hasn't been let out by the previous user (one of my pet peeves ) will cost you time.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
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    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — 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."
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    I'll add to Chief LaBlanc's advise. If you're strictly doing it for time, lay the pack in front of you with the top of the bottle facing you. When you go to don it, grab the pack by the bottle, lift it over your head, and just lift your arms. The pack should fall right onto your shoulders. From that point you can tighten the shoulder straps and fasten the waist belt (and chest strap if you've got it).

    Another phrase I've heard similar to his is to "be quick, but don't hurry." Get familiar with your pack and work with it. You'll become used to it enough that you'll see your times drop.

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    I'll third that advice. My timed donning went off without a hitch, because I wasn't really worried about the time. You'll find one minute is plenty, as long as you just smoothly transition between steps in donning the pack.

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    i agree with what everybody else has said dont worry about the time that will come with practice, i have found that the over the head method works the best, also try kneeling when you don the pack. I also learned that it works to turn the pack on before you attempt anything. also what seems to work the best is if you put your gloves on, then lock your regulator on, the most time seems to be wasted trying to get the gloves on,

  10. #10
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    thanks for the advice
    currently we are allowed to lay it out as we like.
    in response to dmleblanc
    we have to have our helmet, gloves (no skin showing when arms are fully extended), and hood on, all straps covered by the hood

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    Thumbs up

    I didn't read the other replies, so if it was already covered I apologize. Try to stay one step ahead of your next move in your mind. So when you throw the pack over your head think about your straps. Once you have them in your hands think about your mask, etc. Also have everything laid out where you want, nice and neat. A quick trick to save more time is leave your helmet strapped but all the way loose.

    My layout was as follows:

    pack in front of me with straps laid out fully extended
    Helmet to my right
    Mask to my left
    Gloves under my knees right under right left under left

    Steps:

    Pack (waist strap tightened only)
    mask
    helmet
    gloves
    connect your regulator
    tighten shoulder straps

    That method won me quite a few bets, I got down to about 31 seconds bottle fully open ready to go

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ncoliva1200 View Post
    I use the backpack method when getting tested for time. It's MUCH faster...

    Youtube example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-0-qh7RZKVE
    Maybe for you... remember, what works well for one guy, may not for everyone else.

    For example..."over the top" will put me under 40 seconds consistently...some reason, the "coat" or "backpack" method ends up with a strap twisted somehow, and I might get 50 seconds if lucky.

    One definite thing to do, that will work for everybody: don your coat with your hood up, and zipper up, turn your collar up, and fasten your throat strap (if your turnouts have it)...THEN put your hood down, and fold it so it sits over your upturned collar. That way, it'll be that much easier to get your hood over your mask once you get it on. Probably save you at least 3-5 seconds of "fishing" for your hood.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

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    I had difficulty at first but then i realized that turning the pack on first saves tons of time.

    Kneel with pack in front of you
    Put on the hood
    Turn on pack
    grab the rails between the straps
    toss it over your head (the straps fall right on your shoulders)
    Tighten the shoulder harness
    tighten the waist harness
    Donn the mask, twist in the reg.
    Pull up the hood
    Helmet/chin strap
    gloves.

    (In real situations i follow this with loosining the shoulder harness just slightly, the weight should be on your hips primarily)

    time to spare....

  14. #14
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    Take a good hard look at a wall clock and see just how long one minute is... you will realize that 1 minute is plenty of time.
    ‎"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

  15. #15
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    Talking

    as i skimmed through, there are a lot of good suggestions. for me the over the head method worked the best. the key is to lay out all of the gear. make sure all straps are fully extended, your chin strap is undone, and if you are allowed "roll" your gloves. by this i mean roll the cuffs down so you are not fighting to get your hands into the gloves. with the over the head method you are not having to turn the pack around as much just make sure that the alarm bell is away from you then pull up, check your pressure, announce it (automatic fail if you dont), turn bottle on. grab the handles and lift over your head. the straps should automatically fall over your shoulders. allow it to slide down your back and at the same time feel for the chest strap then tighten down the shoulder straps. then connect the waist belt and tighten. don the face mask, check your sealand pull up your hood making sure no skin or hair is showing (automatic fail). put on helmet attach chin strap then attach regulator. don gloves and as you put on the gloves make sure that the gloves unroll (simply slide hand up). also check your icm to make sure that it is functioning properly and that the gauge corralates with what the bottle pressure said when u first began the process.

    the key is being smooth. lots of practice helps. at first move at a slow pace, find a groove that works for you. then start picking up the pace. you really should eventually with enough practice get it within 45 seconds and never stop practicing. always think about what you are going to do next and before long it will be as easy as riding a bike! let me tell u this, im 5'1" and if i could do it so can u! best of luck!

  16. #16
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    it takes me jus under 45 seconds to put the pack on and breathe air it took about a year of practice

  17. #17
    Forum Member fireman4949's Avatar
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    Don't try to run before you learn to walk!

    Concentrate at first ONLY on the mechanics. Learn how to do each and every step properly, every single time. Once you have mastered the mechanics, speed will naturally follow.
    Also, don't concern yourself with how fast or slow your classmates are, concern yourself with your own accuracy and efficiency. Trying to be the fastest usually means making more mistakes along the way. Trying to be the most efficient and accurate however, usually means your thinking as you go.
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  18. #18
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    I'd used the coat method as well.It worked for ME.There are other people who like slinging 35+ lbs over their heads.I just never got comfortable doing that,even if a LT I still respect greatly kept trying to change my "heathen ways".
    No matter which method of donning gear you decide works,it shouldn't matter as long as you are packed up,ready to go and know what you are doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by ncoliva1200 View Post
    I use the backpack method when getting tested for time. It's MUCH faster...

    Youtube example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=-0-qh7RZKVE

  19. #19
    Forum Member LADDER2EKU's Avatar
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    30 seconds should be plenty of time to don your SCBA, hood, gloves and helmet. We actually require all members to be able to be dressed in full firefighting PPE in 2 minutes or less, and the prefered is 1:30 or less. My personal best is 1:10 for everything.

    A few things that help me are:

    Kneel down on both knee's.

    Have the pack laying on the cylinder with the valve away from you.

    Grab the harness and place it over your head, as it drops down grab the shoulders straps and pull down.

    Have the waist straps "pretightened". Tighten them to the point that you barely have to pull them.

    Place your facepiece on, and pull your nomex up.

    Put your helmet on.

    Then your gloves.

    Finally click in your regulator.

    We use Scott packs but I think that this should work with MSA as well.
    Last edited by LADDER2EKU; 10-29-2007 at 10:09 PM.
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