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NFPA's New Breathing Apparatus Standard is Coming: Will Your Department be Ready for NFPA 1981?

NCJ Number
National Fire & Rescue Volume: 26 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2002 Pages: 40-45
Chris Hansen
Date Published
6 pages
This article describes the updated standard for Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), known as NFPA 1981.
Proposed changes for the 2002 edition of NFPA Standard 1981 include modification of the vibration test, which specifies a different type of testing container and improves repeatability of the test. Other proposed changes include a new performance test to measure carbon dioxide content in the SCBA facepiece, and clarification of design, performance, and testing criteria for end-of-service-time indicators (EOSTIs). Of particular interest to firefighters, the proposed changes include the addition of a heads-up display (HUD) to the SCBA facepiece and the addition of a universal air connection (UAC) to the cylinder. Firefighter safety will be enhanced by providing the critical air supply information in the firefighter’s facepiece. On the proposed new cylinder-fitting requirement, the standard will require that every new SCBA cylinder be equipped with a UAC that will allow the replenishment of breathing air to the SCBA’s breathing air cylinder. With this feature, firefighters in need of rescue can have their cylinders refilled, independent of who the manufacturer is. However, some departments will not use this because they feel that a cylinder should be filled in a safe, protected environment, such as a fragmentation chamber. There will be a need for extensive training of personnel to operate this system correctly and safely. All SCBA systems will have to be tested by a third party to certify that they meet the new requirements, once the standard has been finalized. The base price for an NFPA-compliant SCBA system is expected to dramatically increase.