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USFA and NIST Initiate Study of SCBA Thermal Performance

Published:  22 October, 2009

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have started a research study to examine the enhancement of thermal performance of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) face pieces to increase the protection of firefighters.

"There have been incidents of serious SCBA face piece failure, sufficient to warrant this important study," said U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin J. Cochran. "There is a clear need to examine ways to strengthen the protection provided by SCBA face pieces used by the fire service, before others are
injured.

The initial phase of this study will examine documented on-duty injuries and fatalities of firefighters due to thermal exposure of SCBA face pieces. Also during this phase, USFA and NIST will work with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1981 Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
Technical Committee on identifying ways to enhance the operational effectiveness of SCBA face pieces. Finally, initial laboratory thermal testing of commercially available SCBA face pieces will also be conducted.

"Through both laboratory and operational testing, this study will examine ways to enhance the thermal performance of one of the most critical SCBA components, the face piece," said NIST researcher Nelson Bryner. "NIST is pleased to work with USFA in this effort to improve the operational safety of firefighters."

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