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Hello, i would like to know, by using a positive demand or positive pressure SCBA is it necessary for the person who donning the scba to ensure his beard is to be shaved clean first before wearing the face mask? As i understand the device is set to maintain a small positive pressure inside the facepiece.

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The short answer is, yes, you need to loose the beard.


In the US there are Federal and State laws that deal with the use of breathing equipment in toxic environments.  The laws are written so as to provide the maximum level of protection to the wearer.  As is the case anywhere, there are people that want to change the rules to suit themselves.  Breathing equipment is one example.  SCBAs should always be used in any atmosphere that is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).  Not every IDLH environment that we work in will kill you dead right there (DRT).  Some cause cancer, some damage lungs, kidneys, livers and brains.  Take the time to search for the effects of burning plastics and you will find more that enough to scare you out of wanting to take chances with your breathing air.  The other consideration is that while a SCBA works under positive pressure and will (under normal conditions) keep a safe breathing mix in the mask, if the user is breathing hard and fast, outside IDLH atmosphere can be inhaled.  Also, if you have a leak in your mask, you will empty your air bottle before everyone else on your team.  This means that you will have to get out of the area sooner that you would otherwise have needed to, making your crew less effective, causing you to exit before your assignment is complete and threatening any survivors left in the building.

At the end of the day, I look at it as another part of staying prepared as a Firefighter.  We need to stay fit, educated and trained.  Being clean shaven is part of staying fit and educated.

 

 

Thanks Larry.

Larry Lasich said:

The short answer is, yes, you need to loose the beard.


In the US there are Federal and State laws that deal with the use of breathing equipment in toxic environments.  The laws are written so as to provide the maximum level of protection to the wearer.  As is the case anywhere, there are people that want to change the rules to suit themselves.  Breathing equipment is one example.  SCBAs should always be used in any atmosphere that is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).  Not every IDLH environment that we work in will kill you dead right there (DRT).  Some cause cancer, some damage lungs, kidneys, livers and brains.  Take the time to search for the effects of burning plastics and you will find more that enough to scare you out of wanting to take chances with your breathing air.  The other consideration is that while a SCBA works under positive pressure and will (under normal conditions) keep a safe breathing mix in the mask, if the user is breathing hard and fast, outside IDLH atmosphere can be inhaled.  Also, if you have a leak in your mask, you will empty your air bottle before everyone else on your team.  This means that you will have to get out of the area sooner that you would otherwise have needed to, making your crew less effective, causing you to exit before your assignment is complete and threatening any survivors left in the building.

At the end of the day, I look at it as another part of staying prepared as a Firefighter.  We need to stay fit, educated and trained.  Being clean shaven is part of staying fit and educated.

 

 

Sazali,

FIT test standards also require a beard to be shaved. We provide annual SCBA donning/doffing to our recreation department and one argument we run into with beards is that they say they can get a positive seal. I asked them to show me how they get the seal - they put the mask on correctly - tighten the straps (this is a scott 2.2 mask) and then they put their hand over the opening were the regulator goes. He showed me he could get a good seal with negative pressure.

Using your hand is an incorrect way of testing your seal - this is why. When you put your hand over the opening and inhale you create negative pressure. To ensure you get a good seal the tendancy is to push your hand to make sure no air leaks around it. This pressure in turn pushes the mask onto your face creating the impression of a "good seal".

 

A better method of testing the seal is to hook your requlator up without charging the scba and see if you have a good seal by inhaling - mask should suck onto your face. This test showed our recreation employee that his seal was not adequate.

 

If fit testing using a machine " potacount", then it will also be difficult...not impossible, but difficult to maintain a good seal.

 

Hope this helps.

 

I respectfully disagree.  I am a Muslim and my religion is that of Islam. Saying that to say, we are encouraged by our religion to wear our beards in obedience to God.  I have been fit tested with a beard and passed with flying colors. 

The only reason we in the fire service are not allowed to wear beards is out of tradition and fear of the different and unknown.  I have been fighting an uphill battle for years with my administration to allow me to at least be fit tested with a beard and then let the numbers speak for themselves.  There are many municapilities around this country that allow beards for religious reasons and this proves that all we have to do is get out of the darkness and dogma of the past. 

I know that you may not believe me, but the proof is in the pudding.  Just test a member with a beard and see for yourselves.  It is time to grant us the same religious freedoms that this country was founded upon.

Larry Lasich said:

The short answer is, yes, you need to loose the beard.


In the US there are Federal and State laws that deal with the use of breathing equipment in toxic environments.  The laws are written so as to provide the maximum level of protection to the wearer.  As is the case anywhere, there are people that want to change the rules to suit themselves.  Breathing equipment is one example.  SCBAs should always be used in any atmosphere that is Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).  Not every IDLH environment that we work in will kill you dead right there (DRT).  Some cause cancer, some damage lungs, kidneys, livers and brains.  Take the time to search for the effects of burning plastics and you will find more that enough to scare you out of wanting to take chances with your breathing air.  The other consideration is that while a SCBA works under positive pressure and will (under normal conditions) keep a safe breathing mix in the mask, if the user is breathing hard and fast, outside IDLH atmosphere can be inhaled.  Also, if you have a leak in your mask, you will empty your air bottle before everyone else on your team.  This means that you will have to get out of the area sooner that you would otherwise have needed to, making your crew less effective, causing you to exit before your assignment is complete and threatening any survivors left in the building.

At the end of the day, I look at it as another part of staying prepared as a Firefighter.  We need to stay fit, educated and trained.  Being clean shaven is part of staying fit and educated.

 

 

Sure.  The test will consist of trying to remove a Firefighter from the inside of a structure in high heat, low visibility conditions. 

From my answer, you can safely infer that the fit test doesn't mean as much to me as real world results.  If someones life is on the line. I'll always go with the highest standards.  The Religion of the subject is of no interest to the pre-flashover compartment.

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