At the training drill on Monday, February 24, 2020, the topic was Breathing Air Management. Firefighting tasks are physically demanding and often completed while wearing SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). It's often said firefighters can expend as much energy in 20 - 30 minutes as most would in an entire workday doing strenuous labor. This exertion takes it's toll on the individual's respiratory system.
Our SCBA units use compressed air and are rated for 30 minutes of healthy work. It doesn't take much exertion to quickly deplete the air supply carried in the tank. It's important for a firefighter to be in relatively good physical condition. They are are trained to control their work pace and manage their respiratory rate. The faster and harder they breathe, the faster their air supply becomes depleted.
When the air supply runs low, an alarm activates to let the firefighter know they're almost out of air. At this point, they need to exit the IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life & Health) atmosphere to either get a fresh bottle or take a break. Because of our "Two In, Two Out" rule, when a firefighter needs to exit for air, another firefighter must exit with them. This is all a part of our accountability process, where we track who is in the hazardous environment. Should something go wrong, we can quickly account for everyone or determine if someone is missing.
By having an exercise such as this, firefighters can practice breathing techniques to slow and control their respiratory rate, to husband the air they're carrying on their back. Using common firefighting tools, ladders and charged hose lines, the drill tries to duplicate, as far as practical, the various tasks firefighters are called upon to execute. It's a timed exercise and the goal is to use as little air as possible. Records are kept of the times so at future Breathing Air Management drills, a comparison can be made.
It should be noted we are 100% volunteer. Everyone participating in this exercise is committed to "Service for Others", doing this to make their contribution to the community