SCBA Manufacturers Roundtable

Firehouse Magazine has invited manufacturers of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to discuss the new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 Standard.


AVON-ISI Ernie Younkins SCBA Product Manager Avon-ISI FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard? YOUNKINS: Avon-ISI is introducing a new model in our Viking series for the new NFPA standard...


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AVON-ISI

Ernie Younkins
SCBA Product Manager
Avon-ISI

FIREHOUSE: What significant changes or innovations are being made by your company to meet the next version of the NFPA 1981 Standard?

YOUNKINS: Avon-ISI is introducing a new model in our Viking series for the new NFPA standard. The new model is the Viking Z Seven. The Viking Z Seven has numerous changes that offer unique features never available before. Some of these features are not part of the NFPA standard, but are features that our customers have asked for to make the SCBA easier to use during a call.

The new Viking Z Seven offers an adjustable VAS with 10 presets that adjust the voice amplification internal microphone inside the nosecup. This technology eliminates most breathing noise without degrading communications quality. The amplification system can be turned off manually, but will always be activated any time the cylinder valve is opened or when other electronic features, such as PASS (personal alert safety system) and HUD (heads-up display), are turned on. In addition, we improved the lower cylinder support bracket to eliminate motion to within one inch, which satisfies the 1981 (SCBA) standard.

We have made numerous changes to meet the new NFPA 1982 (PASS) standard. To start, we redesigned PASS from a blank page. The PASS had to meet several new requirements such as the new heat saturation and submersion test. Because of the Avon-ISI Viking PASS design, our Viking line has always had to undergo a complete submersion to meet the PASS standard, even for the NFPA 2002 edition. However, for the new 2007 edition, the SCBA is heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes and then submersed in five feet of water for 15 minutes. Heating the PASS creates a positive pressure inside the PASS and submersing it creates a negative pressure that tries to draw water inside the PASS container. This test must be repeated six times and on the last test, the batteries are removed to ensure that the battery compartment is sealed from the electronic board.

In yet another test, the PASS is heated to 500F for five minutes and the alarm is activated. The alarm must be at least 95 db. To meet this standard, we developed a new alarm that could withstand the temperature without the alarm deteriorating below the 95-db levels. It was quite a challenge to do. We also have a new PASS data-logging system that can be downloaded wirelessly within seconds to recover any information stored in memory such as PASS activation, time-of-alarm and time SCBA was turned on or off.

FIREHOUSE: What, if any, changes are you making to facepieces and visual displays?

YOUNKINS: Our current nosecup did not have to be changed to meet the new CO2 requirements, but we wanted to make changes to improve the comfort and in doing so reduced the CO2 buildup.

FIREHOUSE: Are you making changes or requirements to communications devices, locating devices or monitoring of high heat, cylinder air or any other data from units to remote sites such as command posts?

YOUNKINS: Avon-ISI has always used a voice-amplification system as a standard feature of the Viking and the new Viking Z Seven is no exception. Two years ago, Avon-ISI developed a new air-management system that transmits cylinder pressure, real-time temperature and PASS status from the SCBA to an outside command center. The command center will receive updates in seconds on any changes from the SCBA, and will alarm when cylinder pressure, temperature or time-in-fire exceed pre-set parameters. This system allows command to recall individuals or all firefighters on scene. Each system can support 32 firefighters.

FIREHOUSE: What will the new standard mean to manufacturers and emergency responders?

YOUNKINS: The new standard will make SCBA more robust for the fire service. The new electronics will sustain more heat and be better protected from water damage. Our new PASS will still be serviceable, allowing board replacement and future upgrades through our new wireless network.

DRAEGER

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