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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Okla. incident highlights need for fully-functional SCBA

We are completely dependent on fully-functional breathing apparatus to safely and effectively fight today's fires

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: The Tulsa, Okla., Fire Department is investigating how a firefighter was injured fighting a New Year's Eve fire that was intentionally set, with the probe looking at whether SCBA was to blame.

I know we're all thinking of the Tulsa Fire Department and wishing FF O'Neal a speedy recovery after his harrowing experience.

This isn't the first, nor will it be the last, time I've written about the importance of selecting, maintaining, and training with self-contained breathing apparatus.

Perhaps because my first experience breathing compressed air (as a 15-year-old SCUBA diving student) was at the hands of a retired fire captain, I've always been a bit, uh, "detail-oriented" about making sure my assigned SCBA was properly maintained and ready, and that I was personally highly-proficient in its use.

While we still don't know the exact nature of the suspected/reported SCBA issue that led to FF O'Neal's injuries, this story reinforces the fact that we are completely dependent on fully-functional breathing apparatus to safely and effectively fight today's fires.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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