Air management

Mayday Monday: Air Management and Mayday

On September 24, 2016, the Wilmington (DE) Fire Department suffered a devastating loss. Two firefighters were killed and five others were injured, one seriously, while fighting a townhouse fire. The basement arson caused the first floor of the townhouse to collapse, sending several firefighters into the blaze. A frenzied scene unfolded as teams attempted to rescue the trapped and bring the blaze under control. During the rescue, fire continued to attack the building causing further collapse. Members of the Rapid Response Team (RIT) found themselves trapped. Two firefighters did not survive and one firefighter was seriously injured; she would succumb to her injuries on December 1, 2016. Please read the NIOSH report on this incident.


Search and rescue over fire

Mayday Monday: Deployment of the SCBA RIT

Distributors: command and control LODD

During the investigation of this incident, the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) data loggers worn by the involved limbs were examined. Data from the officer in charge of scale 2 showed that the entire volume of air was evacuated within 12 minutes. The respiration rate exceeded 130 liters per minute, which may indicate a large air loss event. (NIOSH, 2017) This could be caused by equipment failure or loss of facepiece.

Scale 2 officer air rate
Source: NIOSH

Either way, the importance of your air supply cannot be overstated. In fact, listen to this month’s podcast where Wilmington firefighter Brad Speakman talks about controlling his breathing to conserve air while waiting for rescuers. Find the podcast below.

Monday in May / YouTube

As a reminder, the ARA rating is based on a use of 40 liters per minute (45 minute cylinder = volume of 1800 liters / use of 40 liters). Do you know how much you use? Can you make the air supply last longer than the rated value?

This month’s skill / exercise is testing your air handling ability. Grab your gear and get on a treadmill or the court and make your air last as long as possible. Do something to find out if you can manage your air supply. It is a skill of life and death.

Thanks for visiting this month’s Mayday Monday. Please send photos / videos of you and your team practicing the skill / drill. Send to [email protected] See you next month.

In memory:

Lieutenant Christophe Leach

Fireman Jerry Fickes

Firefighter Ardythe Hope

Tony Carroll is a Captain / Team Commander in the Louisa County (VA) Fire and EMS Department.


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Mayday Monday: Bring air to the firefighter

Mayday Monday: Basement fires: rescue options

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