Air Packs / SCBA — What options do you like?

Does your driver assist with bottle change and are they ready?

How do you change out and where? How many bottles can you go? How long do they last?

How do you change out and where?  How many bottles can you go? How long do they last?

Air Packs and everything that surrounds them. What type of pack do you prefer? What size bottle do you prefer and why? Do you like the quick connect bottles? Do you like the buddy breathing attachment? There is so much available these days and we should question what makes sense and what does not.

Do you mask up every morning when getting on-duty? Do you check your heads up display? How low before you top off? When is it worth it to top off? Do you pre-connect mask?

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10 thoughts on “Air Packs / SCBA — What options do you like?

    • Not really sure why guys don’t wear them, except for possibly laziness or lack of attention to detail. I know this is elementary, but they are made to have the weight of the pack rest on your hips. It reduces unnecessary fatigue when you wear it correctly. It is also a hazard to get caught on/in something that you wouldn’t have had to worry about otherwise. Don’t we have enough to process on the fireground, without having to problem solve a situation we shouldn’t have been in the first place?

      The only disadvantage I can see with buckling your waist strap is from a seated position on the rig. Your coat can become caught up in the back of the harness, leaving a portion of your back exposed. As long as you are the type of person that is paying attention to the details, this really shouldn’t be a problem.

      • I leave my waist strap off out of an old habit. The old pack my seat had when I was new to the job had a shoulder strap that would always loosen up and cause the pack to move a lot from side to side because the weight was on my hips. After being told to “deal with it”, I found that if I left the waist strap off and the shoulder strap had less of a tendency to loosen with the weight of the pack now on it.
        When we upgraded to new packs 6 years ago, they came with a swivel where the belt meets the frame, which caused that same feeling of a swinging pack. So, as you can guess, I went back to leaving the waist strap off again. The only downside is that our bailout kits are built into the SCBA belt (MSA), leaving me with one more step to do before bailing out (I leave my hanging waist strap tightened to my size so all I have to do is clip and go).

        I understand the potential for shoulder fatigue to a point, but I’m aware of it and train accordingly. I don’t really buy the potential for entanglement though (with our packs). It’s not anymore likely to snag on something than any other portion of our gear/accessories (radio purses, light straps, glove holders, etc.)

    • To my shame, the reason I used to not wear mine was because of Weight. It simply did not fit comfortably so I just left it off. Thankfully now I do not have that problem and it ALWAYS gets buckled! This is a reason that I have heard on more than one occasion from others as well. My advice……Lose Weight!

  1. We are wearing survivair I like the visibility of the face piece, I don’t like the way the cylinder is attached to the back plate I wish it locked in like the Scott’s I don’t like how bulky the pass device has become , our main valve is always ratteling loose and blows air when you check it in the morning. I like the 4500 psi I do not like the 45 min bottle though it is too big.

  2. We run MSA’s with 45 min. bottles, and an integrated bailout kit in the waist belt. Things I like are the stubbier bottle (no helmet clanging when looking up), multipe grab/attachment points on frame, simple frame design for easy bottle changes. Things I don’t like are waist belt swivel, neck strap on mask (took mine off…I leave my mask connected at regulator), and lack of buddy breathing coupling.

    Does anybody else hate those awful “emergency transfill conections”? I understand their purpose, but I don’t think most manufactuers realize how difficult those are to use: (1) they’re located on the rear of the pack, which is great for hooking up to someone else, but pretty hard if you have to hook into your own pack (i.e., the other FFs unconscious), and (2) they need to be lined up just right to connect, which is also hard to do with gloves on; even when practiced regularly.

    Anyway, just my thoughts.

  3. Anyone else using the MSA firehawk comm system that plugs into the MSA lapel mic? If so, how is it working for you. It seems that in my department the mask attachment for the comm system is quite unreliable. Also, I agree the transfill connection is ridiculous when it comes to plugging into your own bottle. The older design had the transfill connection near the pass device and made much more sense.

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