"This report identifies a variety of issues and operational aspects of SCBA failures, particularly those related to maintenance and user training. Suggestions for addressing these issues are included throughout the report. […] Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) are one of the most important items of personal protective equipment used by firefighters and rescue personnel. SCBA allow firefighters to enter hazardous environments to perform essential interior operations including offensive fire attack, victim search, rescue and removal, ventilation, and overhaul. They are also used at non-fire incidents involving hazardous materials and confined spaces where there is a threat of toxic fumes or an oxygen-deficient atmosphere. There have been several well-documented incidents during the past 10 years where SCBA failure may have been a contributing factor in the deaths or injuries of firefighters. These incidents, coupled with a recognition of the importance of self-contained breathing apparatus to firefighter safety, prompted the United States Fire Administration to undertake this study to address any operations trends associated with SCBA failure incidents, and to identify potential problems requiring correction or further study. Catastrophic failures of SCBA are characterized by the sudden and unexpected failure of any component that would subsequently expose the user to a hazardous environment, or introduce a major complication hindering the ability to escape from the environment. Failures of this nature are relatively uncommon occurrences, especially considering the very large number of route uses of SCBA by firefighters and rescue personnel each day."
United States Fire Administration Technical Report 088
Government Printing Office: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/