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  1. #1
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    Question SCBA use on CO calls

    Can anyone share their procedures regarding the use of SCBA on residential carbon monoxide calls? Specifically I am looking for info on when does your department require the use of SCBA, I am doing research for an sop and we are looking at either 35 ppm (NIOSH) or 50 ppm (OSHA) as the trigger for donning SCBA. Any info is appreciated.

    Thanks.

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    We take initial readings w/o SCBA and continue to monitor throughout the investigation. If CO levels top 35ppm at any time, we mask up.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    We do the same as DM except 120ppm is the level for using SCBA. 120ppm is 10% of the IDLH of CO and is well below the 200ppm ceiling level set by OSHA.
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    Default use of SCBA

    Echoing DM here, but we use SCBA after an initial reading is confirmed of 35ppm. This SOP was used recently at an apartment complex where the readings were as high as 350ppm. I hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    We take initial readings w/o SCBA and continue to monitor throughout the investigation. If CO levels top 35ppm at any time, we mask up.
    this is us also ..............
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenNFD1219 View Post
    We do the same as DM except 120ppm is the level for using SCBA. 120ppm is 10% of the IDLH of CO and is well below the 200ppm ceiling level set by OSHA.
    FWIW, we went with the median TWA-TLV level from OSHA (50ppm), NIOSH (35ppm), and ACGIH(25ppm). We thought it was a good conservative level to work from without concern for exposure at multiple incidents. Since we can't realistically control successive exposures and TWA-TLV levels allow exposure 40 hours per week, 8 hours per day, it seemed to be a reasonable choice.

    We considered the TWA-C or TWA-STEL values but felt that they allowed too much CO into a FFs bloodstream that could take hours to purge out as well as complicating the exposure "bookkeeping" (i.e. TWA-C exposures must be figured into the TWA-TLV for an 8 hour period & TWA-STEL exposures are limited to 15 minutes with a minimum one hour stand-down between exposures).

    Our SOP further allows us to make entry with SCBA up to IDLH for rescue or up to TWA-STEL to attempts to locate a CO source. For higher CO levels, we'll vent until we get CO levels low enough for entry.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Our policy echoes that of DM, both the levels and the venting.
    The opinions I post to these forums do not represent any entity to which I am affiliated.

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    We designate a firefighter to air monitoring on all CO calls. If CO levels start to to rise rapidly, the crew may (and has) masked up well before the 120PPM level is reached.

    We limit exposure to the fire fighter when the CO is between 35 and 120. Just because the SCBA is not required, does not mean the crew will hang around inside. Procedure is to evacuate the building, shut off the utilities or shut down to source if known. We then vent and monitor until levels are returned to normal.
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    Ours is pretty much just like DM's. We use the 35ppm mark for masking up as it also lends credibility to evacuating occupants. It tends to help them realize the potential gravity of the situation. Also, masking up at 35 ppm ensures your mask is on when you enter the space where the CO is building up and could potentially be above 200 ppm. We had this situation a few years back before our policy when the crew initially had 40-50 ppm and found >300 ppm in a third floor attic/apt. Luckily the crew backed out and immediately masked up. Meanwhile it took over a half an hour to convince a pregnant tenant to go get checked out as she was complaining of headache and nausea until she went out. We now carry the RAD 57 to assist in determining CO exposure.

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    We carry our packs in doing intial readings. Not on air but having them just in case. 35ppm or over we go on air.
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    Why does everyone have SOP's that have you go on air so low????? 35ppm is literally next to nothing!! You could walk around breathing that amound of CO for a very very very long time! Hell if you do overhaul with no air on your are probably standing in a few hundred ppms!! Granted if I go into a basement and my meter starts going up 1-2-300 ppms I'm definitely going to put my facepiece on but how about some common sense! If I run a Hurst tool power unit on the apparatus floor for 30 seconds the co meter that is within 20feet usually goes off with reading of around 40ppms. Am I going to put my facepiece on, NO... And most guys don't even bother wearing the mask anymore for CO runs because we do so many of them and they are usually because they need a new batter or they were cooking and have a reading of 3ppm!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefiftyfive View Post
    Why does everyone have SOP's that have you go on air so low????? 35ppm is literally next to nothing!! You could walk around breathing that amound of CO for a very very very long time! Hell if you do overhaul with no air on your are probably standing in a few hundred ppms!! Granted if I go into a basement and my meter starts going up 1-2-300 ppms I'm definitely going to put my facepiece on but how about some common sense! If I run a Hurst tool power unit on the apparatus floor for 30 seconds the co meter that is within 20feet usually goes off with reading of around 40ppms. Am I going to put my facepiece on, NO... And most guys don't even bother wearing the mask anymore for CO runs because we do so many of them and they are usually because they need a new batter or they were cooking and have a reading of 3ppm!!
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    Pretty much the same here as everyone else's. Our procedure is to investigate while wearing a pack (not on air), and our CO detectors are set to go into "alert" at 35ppm at which time we mask up.
    NJ FFII/EMT-B

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefiftyfive View Post
    Hell if you do overhaul with no air on your are probably standing in a few hundred ppms!! :
    Which is why we don SCBA's during overhaul.....
    NJ FFII/EMT-B

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoFF View Post
    Uh-oh. People are going to be upset with you!
    What FFF knows is that we have the book rules and we have the real world...many of the people in these forums live only in the world of the text book...their concept of the real world is as foreign to us as the vowels found in classical sanskrit!

    There is no real world it would seem for many on here...And yes I concur...some are going to get very angry with you.

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    We're like the others, 35PPM for us. Investigate without air, and if you hit 35PPM mask up.

    On working fires, one of the members of one of the special service companies (either truck or squad) will begin atmospheric monitoring after the fire is out. Once the CO is down to 30PPM, members will come off air. Doesn't take long, espically with aggressive electric PPV in place (but that's another thread altogether).

    FireFiftyFive, no reason to be angry with you. If your department/crew/officer wants to do things that way, cool. However, around here, air is free, so we use it all the time. No shame in it.
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    It's not just the fact of using air and not being ashamed... trust me I'll be the 1st to put my facepiece on especially since I'm a johnny with not a ton of fire experience and I honestly don't take a feed as well as some of the senior guys but anyways it just has to do with trying to save some energy.... For example my neighborhood is mostly 5-7 story walkups... So I'll give you the roof for the night, heck I really like you so I'll give you the roof for a full 24 hours In that 24 hours make your way to the for lets say maybe 10-12 times to open the roof due to rubbish fire,oil burner, food on the stove, maybe a job if your tour is going real well, maybe for a gas leak!! Then do a few more flights for water leaks and a few more for some stuck elevators and a few more for AFA's! Most carrying your mask, 25lb roof rope, and tools...... Oh yeah and for the 5 or 6 CO runs you may do...carry your mask with you!!!!!!!! Also I'm a young guy and can do this without a problem but bringing a mask for CO is just not worth it!! THATS THE REAL WORLD!
    Last edited by firefiftyfive; 12-24-2007 at 10:17 PM.

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    Default Whats the big deal?

    Co monitors go off for a reason. For real/false. If there are pt on dispatch go in on air, if no patients, go in, if you get ANY reading go on air. May seem like overkill, however why put yourself at risk for harm? I know many will argue about what levels you are affected at, however carbon monoxide binds to your hemoglobin faster than oxygen. Therefore your brain/heart/organs are not getting the oxygen they are used to getting, and your brain does not store ANY nutrients, therefore hypoxia (low oxygen) will affect it much much sooner than other organs: to the extreme No brain= no Life

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefiftyfive View Post
    It's not just the fact of using air and not being ashamed... trust me I'll be the 1st to put my facepiece on especially since I'm a johnny with not a ton of fire experience and I honestly don't take a feed as well as some of the senior guys but anyways it just has to do with trying to save some energy.... For example my neighborhood is mostly 5-7 story walkups... So I'll give you the roof for the night, heck I really like you so I'll give you the roof for a full 24 hours In that 24 hours make your way to the for lets say maybe 10-12 times to open the roof due to rubbish fire,oil burner, food on the stove, maybe a job if your tour is going real well, maybe for a gas leak!! Then do a few more flights for water leaks and a few more for some stuck elevators and a few more for AFA's! Most carrying your mask, 25lb roof rope, and tools...... Oh yeah and for the 5 or 6 CO runs you may do...carry your mask with you!!!!!!!! Also I'm a young guy and can do this without a problem but bringing a mask for CO is just not worth it!! THATS THE REAL WORLD!
    I agree in your situation, lumping that crap around is not worth it. All of our work is in 700 - 1000 sq. ft SFD's. I would offer that this experience is more representative of what most guys on these boards deal with. Most are one story. Our engines have the CO monitors, and one engine company investigates them unless their is some other issue (sick people / fire problem). So wearing the pack isn't a butt kicker. PS - Our SOP is SCBA at 50 ppm or a rapid rise that goes above 35 ppm. Constant 45 is okay, if we walk in the door and the meter starts to rise rapidly, we put em on. We are doing 3 - 4 per day right now.

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    if someone calls in a CO alarm... and they are still breathing/talking to you and arent complaining of nausea/vomiting, lightheadness, or dizziniess....

    you can probably walk around there without any problem....
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHR1985 View Post
    if someone calls in a CO alarm... and they are still breathing/talking to you and arent complaining of nausea/vomiting, lightheadness, or dizziniess....

    you can probably walk around there without any problem....

    Correctamundo!!!!!!


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    My favorite part is when the squad or the hazmat tech's get onscene and stick the meter right next to the source, and tell you the reading is "100%"

    Thanks buddy. And you get $'x" amount more than me for that skill that I could figure out?
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    Talking

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytallica45 View Post
    Which is why we don SCBA's during overhaul.....
    You beat me to it. That one was rather obvious, huh?
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefiftyfive View Post
    Correctamundo!!!!!!
    Sorry, but, no. Not correct.

    Even without obvious physical symptoms, CO poisoning is cumulative and takes a long time to clear out of your system.

    You're worried about getting tired? Then don't go around breathing CO if you can help it -- you may regret it on your next call a hour or two later when your system is still poisoned and not operating at peak efficiency. With elevated CO in your bloodstream you will tire faster, breath down your air supply faster, and in general be less able to do your job.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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