I've noticed that I tend to suck down a SCBA bottle a lot faster then some of the other guys. I would say that I am still a rookie, even though I have all my certs, and have been on for about a year. My department trains with SCBA all the time, doing different drills and all that stuff. However when I do see a situation where you really need one, like a structure fire all hell break loose and I start breathing like a horse. I don't know if its the nerves or the excitement getting to me, but i've been looking for ways to control breathing and stay a little more relaxed while inside a structure. I believe that one of the problems is that my department hardly runs any structure fires, so its hard to train and figure out what to change. Do you guys have any advice on controlling your breathing? 

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  It's something that you consciously have to think of.  When you start breathing and you're about to enter the house remind yourself to calm down and take slow breaths.  I'll take a big breath and hold it for as long as I can then slowly exhale or I'll take very slow breaths.  I know it's hard especially if your working hard running the nozzle, humping hose, or tearing into the walls but I'm constantly reminding myself to slow down.  It's not something that comes easily but it helps also if your in good shape physically. 

  Grant it we don't run that many structure fires anymore so when we get one we want to make sure we get to play as much as we can, practice, practice, and more practice.

 How many Jobs have you been on? Counting fires & training, how many times have you used your scba?

Cardiovascular fitness is a big one. It will never help the instinctive "fight or flight" feeling you get which throws your heart rate through the roof and starts pumping blood madly through your body, but it will help alot.


More exposure, more use in 'hot' environments, and keeping a clear head in which you can coach yourself in your breathing techniques whilst on the job, are all things that will help you preserve your air.


This won't change over night, but build up your fitness (even if you think your fit, train a little more), you will notice sublte differences and no doubt find it easier to control your breathing and heart rate, as your body won't be craving/screaming out for as much air.


Stay safe.

I couldn't tell you how many times i've been on air. Put its dozens of time. I'm comfortable with being on air, when I'm not in the "hot zone". And I know cardiovascular is a big thing. I run a couple of miles everyday just for that reason. 

Clay Reynolds has it nailed Tom, it is a conscious effort to control your breathing. When you find yourself breathing fast and heavy, take a deep breath and hold it. You need to think about each breath, easy in and easy out. Practice it the next time you are tanked up, even it is during training. Cardiovascular fitness is also very important, you have got to be in good shape.

This may sound funny but one of the reasons that cadence is sung while running in the military is to help control breathing. I often sing while I'm packed and it seems that it helps with my air conservation.

Just remember to exhale and breathe again ;) ..

Cardiovascular fitness is a big one., BUT, I have found that knowing your job and your crew calms you.  I am older and not in as good of shape as most of my crew, but, I last longer on a bottle because I am calm.  I have confidence in myself and my crew.  I try to keep them calm by staying calm.  Keep training and wear your SCBA as much as possible and you will get better. 

Thanks for the tips guys. We're doing a live burn in the next couple of weeks, and this is definitely going to be the focus for me that day. 

Several methods you can try, but they all come down to the same thing: Mentally forcing yourself to slow down.  First, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.  (Can't pull air as quickly through your nose).  Second, pause between each inhale/exhale (i.e. inhale..2..3...4...exhale...2...3...4....inhale....2...3...4...exhale), and lastly, skip breathing (Normal inhale, pause, normal inhale, pause, exhale, pause, normal inhale, pause, normal inhale, pause......)

But like has been said, it is 95% mentally realizing you're sucking down air hard, and forcing yourself to slow down.  Long, slow breaths, and relax.

Just curious.  What would you be on air outside of the "hot zone"?

could be for SCBA training.

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