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SCBA's! Which is the best and which is the worst? I need to know!

My dept is looking for new air packs what should we look for and what should we stay away from, and why? (Brands)

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There are many to choose from. You need to deside what is best for your department based on need. There is not a lot of difference as to what they do. The difference is in the fit, service and features available. You need to contact the individual companies and try some out at the smoke house or training. Have the people that normally wear them do the testing.
The basics are the same as to NFPA requirements but features are more of a personnel preference. Such as bottle size 30 vs. 45, rescue ropes attached or buddy breathing adapts. I’m sure there are more features but this is just a few.
My personnel preference is Scott, I’ve used MSA before and there not bad, but I still prefer Scott My company also stayed away from all the led’s and electronics is components and used the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), this allows less chance for failure and more chance for success.
I hope I was a little help and good luck stay safe.
There are many to choose from. You need to deside what is best for your department based on need. There is not a lot of difference as to what they do. The difference is in the fit, service and features available. You need to contact the individual companies and try some out at the smoke house or training. Have the people that normally wear them do the testing.
The basics are the same as to NFPA requirements but features are more of a personnel preference. Such as bottle size 30 vs. 45, rescue ropes attached or buddy breathing adapts. I’m sure there are more features but this is just a few.
My personnel preference is Scott, I’ve used MSA before and there not bad, but I still prefer Scott My company also stayed away from all the led’s and electronics is components and used the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), this allows less chance for failure and more chance for success.
I hope I was a little help and good luck stay safe.
Talk to the depts in your area about service. I've heard horror stories about service issues on very comparable types of scba's from different manufacturers.
As with all grate questions pertaining fire you should consult the Fire Master a.k.a. Paul Linder he has a vast and immeasurable wealth of knowledge in this area. As for me I would go with Scott. I have not tried a lot of different packs but I have seen a lot of other packs malfunction. I do say KISS and don’t rely on any thing that requires batteries in a fire. As far as MA and other departments in your area that is smart but don’t jump of a cliff just because other lemmings are. Lastly get the packs and demo demo demo try and bring them the next class in Nov. I would love to break someone else’s demo pack.

I almost forgot What’s The Good Word
Tried Scott, MSA, Sperian, and ISI. You know the problems with Sperian. The MSA we tried was bulky and all the electronics are mounted to the shoulder strap. ISI packs have the second stage regulator attached to the facepiece at all times. Scott works well for us and has the best safety features we could find. Try to demo a Draeger...heard they are pretty good also.
I think some of the others have the right idea on trying several brands. It never hurts to demo all manufacturers, especially if they let you use them for training. I am a MSA certified technician but have used, tested, and have looked extensively at all other brands. I am a line firefighter who does not sell any product. We have our own service center which does all repairs in house except for electronics. My honest opinion is this, I would only buy Scott or MSA. Both of these brands stand behind their products even after the warranty and they are both time tested. Now that Scott has fixed the fogging problem, I like their face piece better but MSAs comfort and reliability is hard to beat. We have had our current 54 SCBAs for 9 years and I have never had to fix a first stage regulator and the second stage regulator usually only need an adjustment every 2-3 years. If your set up for high pressure or have the funds to be, I would highly suggest the low profile 4500 psi 30 minute bottle. It is a real advantage in tight spaces and really cuts down on how much you hit your tank on objects. You will really notice it if you try going back to a low pressure bottle. I hope I have at least given you something to think about

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