SCBA Abilities & Skills

Many firefighters swing the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) over their shoulders pand onto their backs with little thought of the complexity of the equipment and the extreme hazards that they will be operating in when wearing it. There are...


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If you become tangled while wearing an SCBA, you must stop, back up and try to free yourself from the entanglement. If this does not work, you must use your hands to find what you are tangled with and release it or cut it with a wire cutter. Your cutter needs to be easily accessible and able to cut substantial wire or rope.

All of the above skills are mandatory. There are no options inside a burning building when you need to maneuver, remove or untangle your SCBA. Head out to the apparatus floor, pull your SCBA from the rig and start practicing these SCBA skills - your life depends on it!


JOHN J. SALKA JR., a Firehouse contributing editor, is a 28-year veteran battalion chief with FDNY, the commander of the 18th battalion in the Bronx. Salka has instructed at several FDNY training programs, including the department's Probationary Firefighters School, Captains Management Program and Battalion Chiefs Command Course. He conducts training programs at national and local conferences and has been recognized for his firefighter survival course "Get Out Alive." Salka co-authored the FDNY Engine Company Operations manual and wrote the book Forged in Fire: Leadership Lessons of the FDNY. He also operates Fire Command Training (www.firecommandtraining.com), a New York-based fire service training and consulting firm.