Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Thermal Performance

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USFA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studied the thermal performance of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) face pieces to increase the protection provided by this equipment to firefighters, especially during incidents of high thermal exposure such as flashover.

The study examined documented on-duty injuries and fatalities of firefighters due to thermal exposure of SCBA face pieces, with researchers conducting laboratory thermal testing of commercially available SCBA face pieces. Resulting from this research, the following reports were developed:

This project also supported the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Technical Committee through identification of ways to enhance the operational effectiveness of SCBA face pieces. Included in the 2013 edition of NFPA 1981 is the new Lens Radiant Heat Test described in the NIST 1785 report.


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