Hello everyone, I am new to the community and look forward to learning from everyone.

I am new to firefighting and am going through our local class for FireFighter 1 certification. I have a question to post and see if anyone can offer up their experiences and advice on this subject.

I just joined our local volunteer fire dept. ( I moved back to town, I grew up here and want to give back), I have been a member of our water utilitie's (where i work) HAZMAT team so I have some experience with SCBA's already. The one thing I have had trouble with and haven't been able to conquer is controlled breathing with the face-piece on.

I seem to be just fine and have never had clausterphobia. I also seem to be just fine when doing normal training with the SCBA on, but when we have them on for an extended period of time (say, 20 minutes) or we are doing drill work like carrying out a victim, I tend to not be able to get anough oxygen and really, really want to get that face-piece off asap. I don't feel trapped, it's more like the air is too dry and I want to take a big deep breath of warm, moist air.

I have tried breathing through my nose, 3 seconds in, 4 seconds out and that works a little bit. And I seem to be a little more comfortable in my bunker gear as opposed to wearing a level "A" HAZMAT suit (where you are zipped in from the outside of the suit). I just want to know that I am going to be there for my team and not have a psnic attack in the middle of an incident.

My first call was a structure fire and I did fine with the SCBA on. Any techniques would be appreciated. I;m not too terribly out of shape.

Next goal I set for myself is to start wearing the tank and face-piece around the house to get some more time in on it. Trying to throw in some physical work while it's on to see if that helps. We have our own air recharge system so I can fill the tank when I am finished.

Thanks in advance to everyone who has advice for me.

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Comment by Dustin J. Millis on September 1, 2009 at 12:25am
Strangly enough, I always hum the theme song to Ladder 49. Seems to work for me
Comment by Jarrod McCaughey on August 30, 2009 at 9:51pm
Great information. I will try all of it tuesday night when we do our next training. I think these things will make a big difference.
Comment by FETC on August 30, 2009 at 9:50pm
What are you wearing for an SCBA. make, model, positive pressure or demand? Yes, demand... some still have them out there... Also when was the last time your SCBA was flow tested. I have seen and used some that simply didn't provide enough air for physical exterion. The pack I was wearing was way off the correct flow rate, which can feel as if you are dying inside the mask.
Comment by Doug on August 30, 2009 at 7:48pm
Carry a bottle of water with you, suck down a big gulp of it right before you don your scba mask. And as far as what helps me, personally, with slowing down my breathing, just simply in through the nose, out through the mouth.
Comment by Loyd Dittfurth on August 30, 2009 at 7:05pm
i agree with jared eggo when i go in a structure or any fire for that matter i sing maybe not sing got bless america at the top of my lungs but i will hum or sing kinda under my breath so i can still hear my other guy lol we got new packs right before i moved back home and me n a friend of mine were first in when we packed up he said somthin and i was like what the heck was that well when we went in i started humming i think it was black betty by motor head (it was on the radio when the pager went off) but the moral of that was i didnt know the rit team could hear us aswell lol i caught heck over that but you will be ok trust me ive seen freak out and u dont seem like the type
Comment by lutan1 on August 30, 2009 at 5:49pm
The average breath rate is 40 litres per minute. The key word is, average.

Everyone is different.

I ran an scba class last week where one operator was as low as 25 litres per minute and another was 72 litres per minute. Everyone is different.

Don't stress it.

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