Cleaning and maintaining your life-saving equipment is never superficial. Whether your SCBA hangs on the wall ready to be used in an emergency or you constantly have it on your back as a hazmat responder or firefighter, it should always be kept in tip-top shape.
You may have come across this blog because you’re heading to the OAFC show or just because you’re looking for some safety spring cleaning tips. Either way, today’s topic touches on both. Here are the three reasons why it’s important to clean and maintain your self-contained breathing apparatus (SBCA) equipment.
1. It’s important to your health
When you enter an IDLH atmosphere such as a fire, the air is filled with hazardous chemicals and particulate matter which can settle onto your bunker gear and SCBA. Once you bring the equipment back inside the truck or fire hall, these carcinogens can be disturbed and/or emit toxic gases. This can lead to you breathing in the harmful soot and carcinogens without the protection of a respirator, causing negative, long-term health effects including cancer.
The best way to combat this is by cleaning all of your gear (including your SCBA harness and cylinder) immediately after attending a call. It is also imperative that the responder practice good hygiene by doffing their equipment in a manner that doesn’t contaminate them or surroundings and of course washing up afterwards.
2. It’s required by the manufacturer
In order to ensure that your SCBA will work how it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to, it’s vital that you have it serviced regularly. Major brands including Scott (3M), MSA and Honeywell each call for the following maintenance in order to meet CSA, NFPA and Transport Canada guidelines:
- Routine flow testing for open-circuit SCBAs.
- Breathing air must be replaced annually along with an internal visual inspection of the cylinder.
- Hydrostatic testing of fibreglass or Kevlar® full-wrapped and hoop-wrapped cylinders must be performed every three (3) years.
- Hydrostatic testing of steel, aluminum and carbon fibre cylinders must be performed every five (5) years.
3. It’s easy to do
Cleaning and maintaining your SCBA isn’t complicated. Before each shift, you should take five minutes to thoroughly check over your equipment to make sure it’s ready to go. This includes:
- Making sure that all of its components are present (e.g., facepiece, back frame, hardness, cylinder, gauges and accessories).*
- Checking for dirt, cracks, cuts, tears, deterioration and damage from heat or chemicals.*
- Ensuring that it is fully charged to the manufacturer’s specified pressure level; you want to be confident that you have the maximum amount of air when entering into an IDLH
If you notice any issues or damages to your equipment, it’s essential that you have it serviced by a factory-trained and certified technician immediately and that you do not use it until the problem is resolved. Hint: we offer SCBA maintenance and servicing.
If you want to learn more about our product and service offering for SCBAs (and all fire and emergency-related equipment) be sure to stop by and say hi to our team at the OAFC 2019 show! We’ll be at booth #1310, ready to answer any of your fire and emergency services-related safety questions!