Removing your SCBA should be a last resort in any situation; however it is still a skill all firefighters should be able to complete. By training to remove and don our SCBA in limited visibility it increases skill and knowledge associated with the usage of the equipment. We need to remember that if we are placed in this situation the first attempt should be to make the opening bigger before proceeding; if trapped in this area summon help early by calling a “Mayday”.
First the Firefighter should identify the restricted opening that will not allow them to proceed with their SCBA donned. The area on the other side of the opening should be checked for victims and to ensure the integrity of the floor. After checking the floor, place your tool to the side of the opening so it can be retrieved after making it through.
Loosen the right shoulder strap and remove your arm from the SCBA, followed by
loosening the waist belt and unbuckling. The last step in removing the SCBA should be to loosen the left shoulder strap and removing your arm; when you remove your arm, grab the left shoulder strap with your left hand and don’t let go. By always having the left strap in your left hand you are maintaining a good contact with the line supplying air to your face piece regulator. Slide your SCBA through the opening, bottom of the bottle first. While keeping your grip on the left strap, extend your arm into the opening followed by your helmet. Next position yourself to bring your shoulders through the opening while maintaining contact with the left strap of the SCBA. As your hips enter the opening position yourself to rotate as needed to allow for your pockets to pass through the widest portion of the opening. Once you have cleared the restricted opening re-don your SCBA starting with the left and followed by the right shoulder strap; lastly connect your waste belt and tighten all straps.
The opening used in the pictures was 16” x 16”; it is a tight opening however with
proper techniques and practice even a bigger firefighter will be able to complete this exercise. Just remember that removing your SCBA in a smoke filled building should only be done as a last resort and may warrant a “Mayday”
Now, go train and give it a try!