In part one of this series we began the checkout of one of our most important pieces of equipment. Today we will continue with what good goes into a thorough SCBA inspection.
Twist your regulator off of the facepiece, there should be no cracks or obvious signs of damage. Press the donning switch to the down position. Does it stay? Twist the purge valve, this should also move freely. Make sure that it is all the way away from you when you are done so you are not free flowing air when the mask is turned on. Take a look into the regulator to ensure that it is free of dirt or debris inside.
Spin the regulator back onto the facepiece. It should click in securely. Inspect the facepiece itself for any obvious signs of damage such as a crack in the lens. Excessively deep scratches in the lens itself should be checked and possibly replaced.
This can cause the lens to prematurely fail in heat conditions. The head straps should also be fully extended and the head harness should be in good shape. Flip the facepiece over, inspect the inside. Make sure the nose cone is in good shape and the inside of the facepiece is clear of any dust or debris.
Once you are done there turn the cylinder on. You should hear the PASS alarm activate. Take a look at the pressure gauge on the remote unit, is it in it full? If not replace the cylinder.
Also the gauge on the remote unit should coincide with the gauge on the cylinder itself. If it does not take the unit out of service to be checked and replace with a spare SCBA. Let the SCBA sit for a bit untouched. The PASS alarm should enter its warning stage, give the mask a shake and it should reset. Now let it sit again, after it enters its warning stage let it sit until it enters its alarm stage then shut if off. Now activate the PASS alarm manually. If any of these features do not work properly the mask is unsafe to use.
Shut the cylinder off and put the mask to your face and take a breath, the donning switch should pop and you should be able to breathe. Breathe slowly and watch the remote pressure gauge fall, does the low air alarm activate when it should? Twist the bypass switch to ensure you start to get a free flow of air. If your SCBA is equipped with a heads up display make sure that is working properly as well.
If all of your checks get a green light, place the mask into service. You should have a high degree of confidence at this point that the SCBA will perform its best and protect your life like it is intended too.
There are many different makes of SCBA’s as well as many models from each manufacturer. It was not possible for me to cover each model individually obviously so you will have to “adapt” what is here to your particular model. If you have any additional tips for SCBA checkout please leave them in the comments section.