In Ladder 49 Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) does not have a SCBA on in the end because he ran out of air (as he states over the radio to John Travolta's character) and removed it after his fall. Morrison is wearing one upon entry of the building, he initially removes the mask to allow the victim he is rescuing to take a couple breaths of air.
As for the attending the academy part, all the cast and crew of Ladder 49 attended abbreviated course at the Baltimore City Fire Academy and were trained by Lt. Mark Yant. In addition Phoenix spent a month with the Firefighters of Engine 8 and Truck 10
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