Check SCBA facepieces for damage, NFPA recommends

July 25, 2012

Quincy, MA – Firefighter and emergency response departments should inspect the facepiece lenses of their self-contained breathing apparatus for damage, the National Fire Protection Association recently advised.

Intense heat can cause the facepieces to degrade and potentially fail, NFPA said in an alert (.pdf file) issued July 2. Departments are advised to inspect facepieces for signs of cracking, crazing, bubbling, deformation, discoloring, or gaps or holes. Any SCBA with these signs of degradation should be immediately removed from service and replaced, NFPA said.

According to the alert, recent NIOSH research has shown that facepieces that have degraded due to heat may have contributed to at least three deaths between 2002 and 2011, and a link between facepiece degradation and SCBA failure has been suggested in an additional four deaths.