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Photo of firefighter turnout gear and SCBA

Rapidly Removing an Unresponsive Firefighter From Personal Protective Equipment

Posted: Feb. 6, 2024

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a Safety and Health Advisory for the fire service: “Training on the Rapid Removal of an Unresponsive Firefighter from Turnout Gear and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus.”

Why is this important?

If a firefighter has a medical emergency while wearing turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), this personal protective equipment (PPE) can hinder a rescuer’s ability to provide the necessary care.


This NIOSH advisory offers actionable information on both the importance of rapidly removing an unresponsive firefighter from PPE and techniques that can be learned to accomplish this. NIOSH urges fire departments and training facilities to practice these potentially lifesaving methods during stand-alone training and as part of other training scenarios.

Other recommendations

The advisory also includes recommendations at the organizational level, such as appointing a safety officer, including emergency medical services providers at all events where firefighters are performing strenuous physical work while wearing turnout gear and SCBA, and ensuring firefighters adhere to basic life support certification requirements.

NIOSH co-authored this Safety and Health Advisory with the American Red Cross, the creators of “Firefighter Down: CPR” and Butler County (Pennsylvania) Community College’s Public Safety Training Facility.