The Vital Role of Breathing Apparatus Inspections and Maintenance

The Importance of Breathing Apparatus Inspections and Maintenance

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is essential equipment for emergency responders and workers who regularly enter and work in confined spaces. They provide breathable air in hazardous environments where oxygen levels are low or toxic gases are present. However, SCBA are not immune to wear and tear, and they need regular maintenance to ensure their reliability and safety.

What Does an SCBA Maintenance Involve?

An SCBA maintenance is not a simple task. It requires a detailed inspection of all the parts and components of the apparatus, as well as a series of functional tests to verify their performance. The main components of an SCBA are:

Backpack and Harness: This is the frame that holds the air cylinder and the regulator, and allows the user to wear the apparatus comfortably and securely.

Air Cylinder Assembly: This is the container that stores compressed air for breathing. It has a pressure gauge and a valve to control the air flow.

Regulator Assembly: This is the device that reduces the high pressure of the air cylinder to a breathable level and delivers it to the face piece through a hose.

Face Piece Assembly: This is the mask that covers the user’s nose and mouth, and provides a tight seal to prevent any leakage of air or contaminants.

Each component has smaller parts and accessories that need to be checked as well, such as buckles, straps, lenses, airline hoses and the end-of-service-time indicators (EOTSI). Before starting the inspection, it’s important to clean the SCBA thoroughly to remove any dust or debris that might interfere with the inspection.

The following functional tests should be performed:

Visual Inspection: Look for any signs of wear or damage on all components, such as cracks, dents, scratches, or corrosion.

Cylinders: Make sure that all cylinders are full, secure, and free from leaks or damage. Check the expiration date of the cylinders and replace them if necessary.

Regulators: Check for any wear or damage on valves and regulators, and make sure they are clean and lubricated. Inspect the face piece for any cracks or sharp edges that could cause injury or discomfort during use.

Warning Devices and Indicators: Test that the warning device or EOTSI works properly and alerts the user when the air supply is low.

Buckles: Test that all buckles are functional and easy to operate. They are essential for keeping the apparatus in place and adjusting it to fit the user.

Flow Test: This test measures the flow rate of the air delivered by the SCBA, and compares it with the manufacturer’s specifications. It may require specialised equipment for accurate results.

Learn More with Our Courses

Training is an essential part of using an SCBA safely and effectively. It helps the user to become familiar with the apparatus, its components and its functions. It also teaches the user how to perform the inspection and maintenance procedures correctly and efficiently. Find out more about our breathing apparatus courses and book today!