Know Your Breathing Apparatus, Part I

by mobrian on November 29, 2008

It’s very likely that as part of your travels to become a fire fighter you have learned how to “don” a breathing apparatus (BA), or SCBA.  In fire one and two you trained countless times to make sure you hit all the key steps in order to pass the State’s practical examination or to even show up your fellow fire fighters.  Since that great day, how many times have you but on your BA?  Have you mastered this task?

I have taught the courage to be safe program in many areas of the State and we preach about wearing your seat belts.  Then we get statements on how difficult it is to don your BA while wearing a seat belt.  The simple statement on not following the law (even department policy) and wearing your seat belt usually points to a deficiency in training at the company level.

This is the drill, put your turnout gear on, in under 60 seconds, get on the apparatus, put on your seat belt, and the don your BA as if you were were responding to a working fire, and then step off the truck.  This simple drill usually produces some odd results from the rookie to the most senior fire fighter.  Fire fighters, company officers, and engineers (going through the training, engineers should never don a BA while driving an apparatus) will find themselves entangled in a web of seat belt, forgetting the safety lock on the bottle, or even failing to remember some of the simple safety steps required to pass fire fighter I.

Why does this drill produce odd results?  Is it the pressure of the company office watching each member?  Is it the fact that the apparatus is standing still, or is it that we don’t practice this technique?  I think the later is the case, our staff must wear seatbelts and we must start training our fire fighters at the academy level this task.  What if the state changed the practical examination to doing it in the rig versus standing on the apparatus floor?

There are some simple ways to bring this training to life.  After the next run you go on, or during the roll call in the morning, make sure the crew knows you are going to do this task.  You should do this drill with your company once a month, and watch the confidence in the BA increase, as well as the times to Don the BA decrease!

Take your crew out today and start making every day a training day (ps, lead by example)!

Drill courtesy of

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